Direct consumption of soil represents another exposure pathway, either intentionally (geophagia
, prevalent among pregnant women) or unintentionally (hand-to-mouth contact between children).
Other possible infection routes could take place through geophagia
, coprophagia, and necrophagy, considering that these sources are contaminated.
Each participant signed an informed consent form and filled an anonymous questionnaire including the following data: A) date of birth, sex, age, place of residence, profession, and education level; B) evidence of fever, cough, wheezing, hepatomegaly, and splenomegaly; C) personal hygiene habits that may raise the likeliness of infection by Toxocara parasite such as: 1) not washing hands before meals; 2) indirect geophagia
e.g., when cleaning herbs, vegetables, etc.; 3) presence of dogs in the house or in the backyard/ front yard.
Among the six patients who had not traveled outside the continental United States, two had consumed raw vegetables, three had possible exposure to snails or slugs, and one had a history of geophagia
A four month old male Deoni calf weighing 75 kg was presented with history of anorexia, fever, licking of soil (geophagia
) and weakness since three days.
Pica may take different forms depending on the substance consumed; these include pagophagia (eating ice), trichophagia (eating hair), xylophagia (eating paper), lithophagia (eating stones), geophagia
(eating soil), and metallophagia (eating metals).
Humans can ingest helminth eggs by (i) eating contaminated foods, especially vegetables that are poorly washed, peeled, or cooked, (ii) using contaminated water, and (iii) direct ingestion of contaminated soil (geophagia
), which is common for children [1, 4, 5, 11, 20].
Prof Blanco added: "Children are generally regarded as the main group at risk for environmental exposure to pathogens, not only because they are frequent users of playgrounds, but also due to the high prevalence of geophagia
in that consumption of sand within this group, and the immaturity of their immunological, neurological and digestive systems."
Among the females, poor hygiene and geophagia
(Pica) was an important aetiology.
Her medical history revealed geophagia
during childhood and a previous long-term dental treatment.
Soil-borne pathogenic fungi may enter humans via direct inoculation into wounds, direct ingestion of soil (geophagia
) or indirect ingestion via contaminated food.
There are other compelling reasons for gaining a finer understanding of the health needs of IM populations; a recent study in Johannesburg of the prevalence of geophagia
in pregnant women showed that around one-fifth of the sample were IMs, and that the level of geophagia
in this group was twice as high as that among SA women (17% in women born in SA v.