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Adv Parasitol. 2010;73:21-50. doi: 10.1016/S0065-308X(10)73002-5.

Multiparasitism a neglected reality on global, regional and local scale.

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  • 1National Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.


This review focuses on the issue of multiparasitism, with a special emphasis on its characteristics, its extent in eastern Asia and its significance for infectious disease control. Multiparasitism is pervasive among socially and economically disadvantaged or marginalised communities, particularly in tropical and subtropical areas. Intestinal parasites are the most numerous group, but an array of parasites is located elsewhere than in the human gastrointestinal tract. Although multiparasitism has been recognised for decades, in-depth studies are rare, and its public health and economic implications have yet to be fully elucidated. The assessment of multiparasitism is hampered by a lack of sensitive broad-spectrum diagnostic tools and the need to collect multiple biological samples for detailed appraisal. Non-specific symptoms and mainly subtle effects complicate the appreciation of its influence on cognitive and physical development, health, economic productivity and general well-being. Multiparasitism has been reported from virtually every eastern Asian country, and studies regarding the extent of multiparasitism and its effects on child health have been implemented in the region. However, new research is needed, as no comprehensive evaluations of multiparasitism in eastern Asia could be identified. Two case studies pertaining to multiparasitism at the local and regional scale are presented. Multiparasitism was rampant in an ethnic minority village in southern People's Republic of China where the challenges associated with its thorough evaluation are illustrated. The results from a cross-sectional survey covering 35 villages highlight the significance of its evaluation for the design of locally adapted and sustainable parasite control and poverty alleviation programmes. We conclude by listing a set of research needs for future investigations.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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