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Afr J Med Med Sci. 2007 Mar;36(1):1-9.

Intestinal protozoa and intestinal helminthic infections in displacement camps in Sierra Leone.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Displacement and refugee camps provide ideal grounds for the transmission of parasites and increase the risk of acute respiratory infections, diarhoea diseases, and intestinal parasitic infection. Cryptosporidium parvum, Giardia lamblia, Entomoeba histolytica, Ascaris lumbricoides, hookworm infection, Schistosoma haematobium, S. mansoni and Strongyloides stercoralis are important cosmopolitan intestinal parasites that are common among children, the immunocompromised and displaced populations. Five hundred and eighty one residents from 5 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camps voluntarily participated in the study by providing stool and urine samples for analysis. The stool specimens were used for the detection of Cryptosporidium specific and Giardia specific antigens by the DMSO modified Acid-Fast and Trichrome-PLUS stain for C. parvum and G. lamblia and E. histoyltica respectively. Stool specimens for the demonstration of helminth eggs and larvae were prepared by the modified Kato technique. One hundred and seventy eight (31%) of the 581 camp residents that submited samples were children below 10 years of age and were selected because they were screened for various forms of malnutrition. However, the data on C. parvum and G. lamblia were included in the analysis for all parasites. More children were positive for G. lamblia (29%) than for C. parvum (10%) and 5% had double infection with both parasites. The antigen positive rate decreased with age for C. parvum and G. lamblia infections. Adult samples were also examined for the C. parvum, G. lamblia, E. histolytica, A. lumbricoides, hookworms, S. haematobium, S. mansoni and S. stercoralis. The prevalence of hookworm was highest at Parade Ground Camp (50%) and hookworm had the highest pevalence rate of 18% among the 581 IDP residents followed by S. mansoni (16.7%) and A. lumbricoides (15%). The overall prevalence of E. histolytica among the study population was 9.0%. The results of this study indicate that intestinal protozoan and helminth parasites are highly prevalent among camp residents in Sierra Leone with five (5) different helminth parasites demonstrated in the stool specimens of residents in the five IDP camps.

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