The infection is most common in children. In the south, the rate in children ranges from 10 to 50 percent whereas 80 percent of children in northern areas, where natural fertilizer is more often used in farming, are affected by the worms, according to Dr. Tran Thanh Duong, Head of the National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology (NIMPE).
For instance, 50 percent of children aged 6 to 11 in Hanoi are infected with parasitic worms while only 9.2 percent of children of the same age in Ho Chi Minh City suffer from the infection, according to the latest NIMPE figures.
“It is estimated that Vietnamese people lose 1.5 million liters of blood and 15 tons of food to parasitic worms every year,” said Dr. Duong, adding that the infection causes dangerous diseases and affects human physical and spiritual growth.
NIMPE has launched the “Getting rid of parasitic worms in humans 6116” program, which encourages Vietnamese people to wipe parasitic worms from their bodies on January 6 and June 1 each year.
Vietnam’s population is about 90 million people.
About half the world's population – more than 3 billion people – are infected with at least one of three main parasites: large roundworms, hookworms and whipworms, according to Scientific American magazine.
Most of those afflicted live in developing countries, where there is not enough clean drinking water or an effective sanitation system to keep infected feces from contaminating food and water, and where human excrement is used to fertilize crops, the magazine added.