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Relationship of intestinal parasites to the environment and to behavioral factors in children in the Bolikhamxay Province of Lao PDR.

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Lao-German Family Health Project, Ministry of Health, Lao PDR.


From March to July 1998 the infection rates of 732 children aged below 15 years were assessed. The investigation was conducted in selected villages of the Bolikhamxai Province in Lao PDR. Socio-economic conditions and behavioral pattern were studied. The three soil-transmitted helminths, Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and hookworm were found with prevalence rates of 67.14, 17.49 and 12.83%, respectively. Infection rates with other intestinal parasites were negligible. Of the children investigated, 56.7% harbored one and 20.45% more than one parasite. Except for hookworms, no statistically significant differences were found between genders. The probability of being infected with A. lumbricoides is associated with living in mountainous areas. For hookworms, infection is associated with staying in the plains. A river in the vicinity of the village is linked with the probability of being infested with Trichuris trichiura. Not to belong to a family with the ability to own expensive items increases the probability by almost two times of getting infested with A. lumbricoides. Unhygienic behavioral factors were important in increasing the probability of suffering from A. lumbricoides and T trichiura infection. Behavioral factors did not seem to be related to hookworm infections. It was concluded that after mass treatment, besides promoting the construction of toilets, it is also important to improve personal hygiene so that a lasting impact on the infection rate of the most prevalent parasites in Lao PDR could be achieved. Measures to control parasitic infections do not have to be postponed until a marked improvement of the economic situation has occurred.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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