Stray animal and human defaecation as sources of soil-transmitted helminth eggs in playgrounds of Peninsular Malaysia

John Lewis, Sheena Mohd -Zain, R Rahman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soil contaminated with helminth eggs and protozoan cysts is a potential source of infection and poses a threat to the public, especially to young children frequenting playgrounds. The present study determines the levels of infection of helminth eggs in soil samples from urban and suburban playgrounds in five states in Peninsular Malaysia and identifies one source of contamination via faecal screening from stray animals. Three hundred soil samples from 60 playgrounds in five states in Peninsular Malaysia were screened using the centrifugal flotation technique to identify and determine egg/cyst counts per gram (EPG) for each parasite. All playgrounds, especially those in Penang, were found to be contaminated with eggs from four nematode genera, with Toxocara eggs (95.7%) the highest, followed by Ascaris (93.3%), Ancylostoma (88.3%) and Trichuris (77.0%). In addition, faeces from animal shelters were found to contain both helminth eggs and protozoan cysts, with overall infection rates being 54% and 57% for feline and canine samples, respectively. The most frequently occurring parasite in feline samples was Toxocara cati (37%; EPG, 42.47 ± 156.08), while in dog faeces it was Ancylostoma sp. (54%; EPG, 197.16 ± 383.28). Infection levels also tended to be influenced by season, type of park/playground and the texture of soil/faeces. The occurrence of Toxocara, Ancylostoma and Trichuris eggs in soil samples highlights the risk of transmission to the human population, especially children, while the presence of Ascaris eggs suggests a human source of contamination and raises the issue of hygiene standards and public health risks at sites under investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)740-747
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Helminthology
Issue number6
Early online date2 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015

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