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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2011 Oct;85(4):711-7. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.2011.11-0291.

Vernal keratoconjunctivitis in school children in Rwanda and its association with socio-economic status: a population-based survey.

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Ophthalmology Department, Kabgayi Hospital, Muhanga, Rwanda.


Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) is an allergic eye disease and an important cause of hospital referral among children in Africa and Asia. Hospital-based studies have suggested a role for parasites in its pathogenesis. To determine the prevalence and risk factors for VKC in Central Africa, we conducted a nested population-based case control study in Rwanda, involving randomly selected primary schools from different environments (rural/urban) and climate. A prevalence of VKC of 4.0% (95% confidence interval 3.3-4.7%) was found among 3,041 children studied (participation rate 94.7%). The intestinal parasitic burden was not related to VKC. Besides hot dry climate (odds ratio [OR] = 1.5, P = 0.05) and male gender (OR = 1.7, P = 0.005), multivariate analysis identified higher economic status as a risk for VKC (OR = 1.4, P = 0.005). The effect on VKC of higher economic status appears not to act through differences in parasitic intestinal load.

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