A Survey of the Prevalence of Gastrointestinal Parasites and Associated Risk Factors in Children in a Rural City of the Dominican Republic
Gastrointestinal parasites impose a great and often silent burden of morbidity and mortality on poor populations in developing countries. Veron, Dominican Republic (DR), is a rural city in the southeastern corner of the country where many Dominicans and Haitians migrate to for work in support and expansion of the tourist industry of Punta Cana. Few studies of the prevalence of gastrointestinal (GI) parasitic infections have been published in the DR. Presently, there is a high prevalence of gastrointestinal parasitic infections throughout the poorest areas of the DR and Haiti. This study investigated the prevalence of GI protozoan and helminth parasites from children at the Rural Clinic of Veron during 2008. Participants provided a fecal sample that was examined microscopically for protozoan and helminth parasites using the fecal flotation technique to concentrate and isolate helminth ova and protozoan cysts. Of 108 fecal samples examined, 107 were positive for one or more parasites. Participant ages ranged from 2 to 15 years; 52 were males and 56 were females. Percent infection rates were 48.2% for Ascaris lumbricoides, 13.9% for Enterobius vermicularis, 24.1% for Entamoeba histolytica, and 22.2% for Giardia intestinalis. 9.3% had double infections. A survey of subject characteristics and risk factors was completed by each parent/guardian. Any plan to reduce GI parasites in children of this region 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 immigrants and those not part of the public education system and to address microbial water quality.