Can Existing Improvements of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Urban Slums Reduce the Burden of Typhoid Fever in These Settings?

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Islam, Md Taufiqul 
Ahmmed, Faisal 
Kim, Deok Ryun 
Islam Khan, Ashraful 

BACKGROUND: Sustained investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) have lagged in resource-poor settings; incremental WASH improvements may, nonetheless, prevent diseases such as typhoid in disease-endemic populations. METHODS: Using prospective data from a large cohort in urban Kolkata, India, we evaluated whether baseline WASH variables predicted typhoid risk in a training subpopulation (n = 28 470). We applied a machine learning algorithm to the training subset to create a composite, dichotomous (good, not good) WASH variable based on 4 variables, and evaluated sensitivity and specificity of this variable in a validation subset (n = 28 470). We evaluated in Cox regression models whether residents of "good" WASH households experienced a lower typhoid risk after controlling for potential confounders. We constructed virtual clusters (radius 50 m) surrounding each household to evaluate whether a prevalence of good WASH practices modified the typhoid risk in central household members. RESULTS: Good WASH practices were associated with protection in analyses of all households (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.57; 95% confidence interval [CI], .37-.90; P = .015). This protection was evident in persons ≥5 years old at baseline (HR = 0.47; 95% CI, .34-.93; P = .005) and was suggestive, though not statistically significant, in younger age groups (HR = 0.61; 95% CI, .27-1.38; P = .235). The level of surrounding household good WASH coverage was also associated with protection (HR = 0.988; 95% CI, .979-.996; P = .004, for each percent coverage increase). However, collinearity between household WASH and WASH coverage prevented an assessment of their independent predictive contributions. CONCLUSIONS: In this typhoid-endemic setting, natural variation in household WASH was associated with typhoid risk. If replicated elsewhere, these findings suggest that WASH improvements may enhance typhoid control, short of major infrastructural investments.

WASH, protection, recursive partitioning, typhoid fever, water, sanitation, and hygiene, Child, Preschool, Humans, Hygiene, India, Poverty Areas, Prospective Studies, Sanitation, Typhoid Fever, Water
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Clin Infect Dis
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Oxford University Press (OUP)