The relationship of hookworm infection, anaemia and iron status in a Papua New Guinea highland population and the response to treatment with iron and mebendazole. Academic Article uri icon


  • In 345 apparently healthy Papua New Guinea male subjects, predominantly highlanders, 89% of whom were infected with hookworm (Necator americanus), there was a statistically significant inverse correlation of hookworm egg count with haemoglobin and serum ferritin level, but no significant correlation with serum albumin, folate or B12 values. A sub-group of 128 was chosen for a six-month study on the effect of treatment with the anthelmintic mebendazole and/or parenteral iron on haemoglobin and serum ferritin levels. Mebendazole-treated subjects remained worm-free and the hookworm egg counts of the controls decreased during the study period. Parenteral iron treatment had the expected effect of raising haemoglobin to a normal level. There was a statistically significant improvement in haemoglobin level in all treated groups but not in the control. Serum ferritin levels decreased significantly in all groups, but more in the control than in the treated groups, although treatment groups were not significantly different. Although probable inadequate uptake of iron by the subjects and blood donation by some subjects was apparently more detrimental to iron status than hookworm infection, the results of this study support the view that hookworm infection in this country contributes to lowered haemoglobin levels and iron status.


  • Shield, JM
  • Vaterlaws, AL
  • Kimber, RJ
  • Payne, R
  • Casey, GJ
  • Blunden, RW
  • Kutkaite, D

publication date

  • March 1, 1981