Factors contributing to high prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in children aged 2–15 years in the Punta Cana region of the Dominican Republic
Kristin Anne Geers Childers, James R Palmieri
Department of Microbiology, Infectious and Emerging Diseases, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine–Virginia Campus, Blacksburg, VA, USA
Abstract: The prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites and the severity of infection have a profound impact on human health and development, affecting approximately one-third of the world's population. Gastrointestinal diseases, most notably caused by a variety of gastrointestinal parasites, are endemic to the Dominican Republic. A previous study demonstrated a 99.2% prevalence rate in children between the ages of 2 years and 15 years. The purpose of this study is to note the critical factors contributing to the high rate of gastrointestinal parasitic infections in children in the Punta Cana region of the Dominican Republic. This report addresses qualitative observations and contributory factors responsible for the high rate of gastrointestinal parasite infection. These factors include the impact of malnutrition, the role of weaning foods and caretaker food preparation in parasite transmission, the effects of contaminated water sources, sewage control, and lack of health education regarding prevention, control, and treatment of diseases. Prevention programs should be directed at both the national and the local levels, particularly in schools, for education in symptom recognition, prevention, and treatment. It is imperative that health care workers be trained in the use of new tools to help in estimating the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in both urban and rural settings. Parasitic infections affect growth, intelligence quotient, and nutrition–health and cause diarrhea, fatigue, dyspepsia, and anemia, resulting in high morbidity and mortality in children in this region of the Dominican Republic.
Keywords: clean water, Dominican Republic, gastrointestinal parasites, Haitian, nutritional, parasitic, Verón, weaning foods
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