Helminth eggs represent an important challenge to environmental engineers as they are among the most difficult biological parasites to inactivate in wastewater and sludge. Even though no official data on helminthiasis exist, it is estimated that more than 2.6 billion people are affected. These parasites are of concern in developing countries, particularly in those areas where the reuse of wastewater and sludge for agriculture is common. With regard to this, the unrestricted use of wastewater for irrigation presents a serious health risk due to the dissemination of pathogens, particularly helminth eggs. Helminth eggs survive in water, soil, and crops for several months and over much longer periods than other microorganisms. Therefore, and in order to minimize risk, several guidelines and regulations exist which limit their content in wastewater and sludge. Risk assessment estimates that such regulations may be less strict in developing countries where higher concentrations of helminth eggs occur in wastewater and sludge. These eggs need to be removed from wastewater and inactivated in sludge using certain treatment processes, some of which are not feasible in developing countries. Adequate methods are needed to precisely identify and quantify helminth eggs in environmental samples. Therefore, a multidisciplinary approach is needed to address helminthiasis in environmental engineering issues.
Part of the book: Human Helminthiasis