Cryptosporidium Infections in a Suburban Community in Maracaibo, Venezuela

Leonor Chacin-BonillaInstituto de Investigaciones Clinicas, Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela

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Margot Mejia de YoungInstituto de Investigaciones Clinicas, Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela

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Georgina CanoInstituto de Investigaciones Clinicas, Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela

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Neuro GuanipaInstituto de Investigaciones Clinicas, Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela

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Jesus EstevezInstituto de Investigaciones Clinicas, Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela

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Ernesto BonillaInstituto de Investigaciones Clinicas, Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela

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A point prevalence survey for Cryptosporidium was conducted in 212 subjects two months to 70 years of age in a suburban area with a low socioeconomic status in Maracaibo City, Venezuela. Single stool specimens were collected and modified Ziehl-Neelsen carbol-fuchsin staining of 10% formalin-preserved stool was used to identify Cryptosporidium oocysts. Direct wet mounts, iron-hematoxylin-stained smears and formalinether concentrates were examined to determine the presence of other intestinal parasites. Cryptosporidium infections were identified in 21 subjects (9.9%), with a high percentage of asymptomatic carriers (15 of 21, 71.4%). Six children (28.5%) had gastrointestinal symptoms and four of them were infants. Cryptosporidium was the single detectable potential pathogenic parasite in only five (23.8%) of 21 patients. The infection rate with one or more parasites was high (82%) and multiple infections, including pathogenic helminths and protozoa, were observed in the majority of patients who passed oocysts. Our findings suggest that although Cryptosporidium is an important pathogen, the proportion of asymptomatic carriers may be high in areas of low socioeconomic status in developing countries.

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