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Worm infections (also known as helminth infections) are considered among the most common diseases of children living in extreme poverty in the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In addition, a surprising number of children in the United States and Europe are infected with worms.

The major worm infections of children include the four intestinal helminth infections of ascariasis, trichuriasis, hookworm, and enterobiasis, which are transmitted through contaminated soil; schistosomiasis, a water-borne infection associated with an aquatic snail intermediate host; and toxocariasis and cysticercosis, two zoonotic infections caused by larval stages of parasitic helminths. In total, these worm infections rank among the leading global health threats to children.

Worms are not major killers of children, even in developing countries. According to a new estimate, fewer than 20,000 people die annually from the major pediatric helminth infections. (1...

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