In the category of something “flying under the radar”…

Necator americanus
Necator americanus (hookworm)

Remember several months ago when the much of the media (one example) was covering the study published in November 2017 issue of American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene that reported hookworm disease in rural, Lowndes County, Alabama?

In April 2018, the Alabama Department of Public Health released a statement on the study saying–This study used an experimental technology that was not FDA-approved in order to determine whether hookworm genetic material could be identified in stool specimens of residents who resided in Lowndes County, Alabama. 

In an attempt to validate the results of the study, 9 of 20 individuals identified as positive in the study submitted specimens for additional testing via microscopy for ova and parasites (O & P), which is the benchmark confirmatory testing procedure. This confirmatory testing was performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All specimens tested were negative for O & P, and thus no evidence of hookworm infection was found in any of the residents of Lowndes County who were tested.

The study, inspired by Catherine Flowers with the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise, had researchers from the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor conducted house-to-house enrollment for the study, and they were able to collect 55 stool samples, which they brought back to the labs in Houston. Among 24 households, 42.4 percent reported exposure to raw sewage within their home. A surprising 34.5 percent tested positive for Necator americanus, a species of hookworm using field-tested molecular assays.


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