OBJECTIVES: Chronic infections by enteric parasites including protist and helminthic species produce long-term sequelae on the health status of infected children. This study assesses potential associations linked with enteric parasite infections in symptomatic and asymptomatic children in Zambézia province, Mozambique.
METHODS: In this prospective cross-sectional study, stool samples and epidemiological questionnaires on demographics and risk associations were collected from symptomatic children (n = 286) from clinical settings and asymptomatic (n = 807) children from 17 schools and creches aged 3‒14 years. We detected enteric parasites using PCR-based methods. We calculated prevalence (adjusted for age, sex, house construction, drinking water, and latrine use) and odds ratios (ORs) for risk associations with logistic regression, after adjusting for district, neighbourhood and symptoms.
RESULTS: Numbers and adjusted prevalence (95% confidence intervals in parentheses) for the symptomatic and asymptomatic populations were Giardia duodenalis 120, 52% (22-82), 339, 42% (25-59); followed by Strongyloides stercoralis 52, 14% (9‒20), 180, 20% (15-25). Risk associations for G. duodenalis included drinking untreated river/spring water, OR 2.91 (1.80-4.70); contact with ducks, OR 14.96 (2.93‒76.31); dogs, OR 1.92 (1.04-3.52); cats, OR 1.73 (1.16-2.59), and a relative with diarrhoea, OR 2.59 (1.54‒4.37). Risk associations for S. stercoralis included having no latrine, OR 2.41 (1.44-4.02); drinking well water, OR 1.82 (1.02-3.25), and increasing age, OR 1.11 (1.04-1.20).
CONCLUSIONS: We found a high prevalence of intestinal parasites regardless of the children's symptoms. Drinking well or river water, domestic animals, and latrine absence were contributing factors of human infections.
Keywords: Blastocystis Children Cryptosporidium Entamoeba Giardia Intestinal parasites Mozambique Risk factors Strongyloides symptom