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July 1990

Intestinal Parasites in Central American Immigrants in the United States

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Community and Family Medicine (Drs Heifetz and Barrett-Connor), University of California School of Medicine–San Diego, La Jolla. Mr Salas is a medical student at the University of California School–San Diego of Medicine, La Jolla.

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(7):1514-1516. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390190148025

• We describe the results of ova and parasite examinations of 216 Central Americans who were seen at a Los Angeles, Calif, clinic during an 8-month period. Among the 125 immigrants from Central America, intestinal parasitic prevalence was 53%. Pathogens were found in 45% and multiple pathogens in 21%. Of the 91 US born Central American children, parasite prevalence was 14%. Pathogens were found in 12%. The most common pathogens were Trichuris trichiura, Giardia lamblia, and Ascaris lumbricoides. Giardia lamblia was more prevalent in the younger than 5-year-old age group, and helminths were more prevalent in the 6- to 10-year-old age group. No helminths were found in immigrants who had been in the US for more than 3 years. Gastrointestinal symptoms did not correlate with prevalence of parasites. The high prevalence of intestinal parasites supports previous recommendations for screening; decisions for screening should be based on morbidity (probably low), efficacy and safety of treatment (good), and costs.

(Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:1514-1516)

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