As we learn more about parasites in ancient civilizations, data becomes available that can be used to see how infection may change over time. The aim of this study is to assess how common certain intestinal parasites were in China and Korea in the past 2000 years, and make comparisons with prevalence data from the 20th century. This allows us to go on to investigate how and why changes in parasite prevalence may have occurred at different times. Here we show that Chinese liver fluke (Clonorchis sinensis) dropped markedly in prevalence in both Korea and China earlier than did roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides) and whipworm (Trichuris trichiura). We use historical evidence to determine why this was the case, exploring the role of developing sanitation infrastructure, changing use of human feces as crop fertilizer, development of chemical fertilizers, snail control programs, changing dietary preferences, and governmental public health campaigns during the 20th century.
- Chinese liver fluke