Environmental Detection of Parasites in the Marginalized Paiute Reservations Compared to a Nearby Area

Shannon McKim Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine, St. George, Utah;

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Kristen Kopystynsky Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine, St. George, Utah;

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Nathaniel Wolf Department of Pediatrics, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

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Fahim A. Akbar Department of Pediatrics, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

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Maria Elena Bottazzi Department of Pediatrics, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

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Peter J. Hotez Department of Pediatrics, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

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Rojelio Mejia Department of Pediatrics, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

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ABSTRACT.

The amounts of parasite DNA in soil samples from different playgrounds and other public areas can help identify areas of possible microbe transmission and give indications of the possible occurrence of parasite infection in nearby communities. We collected 207 soil samples from parks in Paiute indigenous tribal areas in southwestern Utah and from the higher income city of St. George, Utah, and tested them for 11 parasites that can cause human disease. Molecular tests revealed an elevated odds ratio (OR) of 3.072 (range, 1.114–8.065) for detecting the helminth Trichuris trichiura and an elevated OR of 3.036 (range, 1.101–7.966) for any protozoa (not including Acanthamoeba) in the tribal land playgrounds compared with St. George parks. These findings support previous studies showing that areas in lower socioeconomic communities, especially marginalized communities, tend to have more parasites in the soil, which may lead to higher disease prevalence rates.

Author Notes

Financial support: This work was supported by the Maternal and Infant Environmental Health Riskscape Center of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research (National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities grant no. P50 MD015496).

Disclosure: P.J. Hotez and M.E. Bottazzi are inventor patentholders on various vaccines against neglected diseases including vaccines against hookworm and roundworm.

Authors’ addresses: Shannon McKim and Kristen Kopystynsky, Rocky Vista University, St. George, UT, E-mails: u6051130@umail.utah.edu and kristen.kopy@outlook.com. Nathaniel Wolf, Fahim A. Akbar, Maria Elena Bottazzi, Peter J. Hotez, and Rojelio Mejia, Department of Pediatrics, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, E-mails: nwwolf@bcm.edu, fahim.akbar@bcm.edu, bottazzi@bcm.edu, hotez@bcm.edu, and rmejia@bcm.edu.

Address correspondence to Rojelio Mejia, Department of Pediatrics, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, 1102 Bates Avenue, Suite 550, Houston, TX 77030. E-mail: rmejia@bcm.edu
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