Cysticercosis Surveillance: Locally Acquired and Travel-Related Infections and Detection of Intestinal Tapeworm Carriers in Los Angeles County

Frank J. SorvilloLos Angeles County Department of Health Services, Acute Communicable Disease Control, Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Los Angeles, California, Georgia

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Stephen H. WatermanLos Angeles County Department of Health Services, Acute Communicable Disease Control, Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Los Angeles, California, Georgia

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Frank O. RichardsLos Angeles County Department of Health Services, Acute Communicable Disease Control, Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Los Angeles, California, Georgia

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Peter M. SchantzLos Angeles County Department of Health Services, Acute Communicable Disease Control, Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Los Angeles, California, Georgia

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A surveillance system for cysticercosis was initiated in January 1988 in Los Angeles County to measure the incidence of the disease, to more accurately assess the level of locally acquired and travel-related infection, and to evaluate household contacts for intestinal tapeworm infection. In three years of surveillance (1988–1990), 138 incident cases were reported for an average crude annual incidence rate of 0.6 per 100,000 population. The highest rates were among Hispanics (1.6/100,000), most of whom were Mexican immigrants. Eight (5.8%) cases were fatal. Nine (6.5%) probable travel-associated cases occurred among persons born in the United States who had traveled to Mexico. Ten (7.2%) autochthonous cases of cysticercosis were documented. Taenia eggs were recovered more commonly in specimens from contacts with cysticercosis cases (1.1%) than in specimens from noncontact patients (0.2%). At least one Taenia tapeworm carrier was found among contacts of five (6.9%) of 72 cysticercosis patients. Carriers were more likely to be found among contacts of patients born in the United States (22.2%) than among those of foreign-born (4.8%) patients (odds ratio = 5.4) Cysticercosis causes appreciable morbidity and mortality in Los Angeles County, principally among Hispanic immigrants. However, these results indicate that both travel-acquired and locally acquired cysticercosis may be more common than previously recognized. Public health followup of cysticercosis cases, including screening of household contacts, can identify tapeworm carriers, who can be treated and removed as potential sources of further infection.

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