The Boqueron Project after 5 Years: A Prospective Community-Based Study of Infection with Schistosoma Mansoni in Puerto Rico

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  • San Juan Laboratories, Bureau of Laboratories, Center for Disease Control, U.S. Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services, GPO Box 4532, San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Boqueron Schistosomiasis Project is a prospective community-based study of Schistosoma mansoni infection after the interruption of transmission by nonchemotherapeutic control measures. The study methods and the parasitologic results of the first five annual stool surveys are described in this report. In the first year, 1972, among 904 inhabitants (88% of the total population) the prevalence of infection was 40%, and the geometric mean intensity of infection among positives was 16.1 eggs per gram (epg). Snail control was begun in early 1973 with molluscicides and habitat modification. Intensive monitoring every 2 weeks revealed only 63 noninfected Biomphalaria glabrata in the community during the subsequent 4 years. The incidence of new infections among people negative in all previous surveys dropped from 17% in 1972 to 1% in 1974 and has remained negligible since then. Among young children and newborn, only four new infections (all less than 5 epg) were found after the first control year. Despite this low rate of transmission, prevalence only decreased from 37% to 34%, and the population geometric mean fecal egg output has not substantially changed in a cohort of 528 individuals examined in each of the six annual surveys. Possible reasons for the minimal change in parasitologic status are discussed and include water contact behavior outside the community and changes in laboratory techniques. Data from the first 5 years of the study suggest that in a population where mean intensity of infection with S. mansoni is low, further decreases in prevalence and intensity of infection occur slowly. The implications for control programs based on nonchemotherapeutic measures are discussed.

Author Notes

Present address: The Permanente Medical Group, Medical Methods Research, 3451 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, California 94611.

Present address: Department of Tropical Medicine, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112.