Prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in children from Verón, a rural city of the Dominican Republic
Kristin A Geers Childers, James R Palmieri, Mindy Sampson, Danielle Brunet
Department of Microbiology, Infectious and Emerging Diseases, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Blacksburg, VA, USA
Abstract: Gastrointestinal infections impose a great and often silent burden of morbidity and mortality on poor populations in developing countries. The Dominican Republic (DR) is a nation on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. Verón is located in La Alta Grácia province in the southeastern corner of the DR. Dominican and Haitian migrant workers come to Verón to work in Punta Cana, a tourist resort area. Few definitive or comprehensive studies of the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasitic infections have been published in the DR. Historically, most of the definitive studies of water-borne or soil-transmitted parasites in the DR were published more than 30 years ago. Presently, there is a high prevalence of gastrointestinal parasitic infections throughout the poorest areas of the DR and Haiti. In this study we report the prevalence of gastrointestinal protozoan and helminth parasites from children recruited from the Clínica Rural de Verón during 2008 through 2011. Each participant was asked to provide a fecal sample which was promptly examined microscopically for protozoan and helminth parasites using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fecal flotation technique to concentrate and isolate helminth ova and protozoan cysts. Of the 128 fecal samples examined, 127 were positive for one or more parasites. The age of the infected children ranged from 2–15 years; 61 were males and 66 were females. The only uninfected child was a 9 year old female. Percent infection rates were 43.8% for Ascaris lumbricoides, 8.5% for Enterobius vermicularis, 21.1% for Entamoeba histolytica, and 22.7% for Giardia duodenalis. Of the children examined, 7.8% had double infections. Any plan of action to reduce gastrointestinal parasites in children will require a determined effort between international, national, and local health authorities combined with improved education of schools, child care providers, food handlers, and agricultural workers. A special effort must be made to reach out to both documented and undocumented immigrants working or living in the area and to pre-school aged children or those who are not part of the public education system. Lastly, it is important to address the microbial water quality and food preparation, especially during the weaning transition to solid foods and throughout childhood.
Keywords: Ascaris lumbricoides, Entamoeba histolytica, Enterobius vermicularis, gastrointestinal, Giardia duodenalis, parasite
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