High Cryptosporidium prevalences in healthy Aymara children from the northern Bolivian Altiplano.

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  • 1 Departamento de Parasitologia, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Valencia, Burjassot, Spain.

The prevalence of Cryptosporidium infection was determined in four Aymara communities in the Bolivian Altiplano, between the city of La Paz and Lake Titicaca, at an altitude of 3,800-4,200 meters. Single stool specimens were randomly collected from 377 5-19-year-old students, all apparently asymptomatic. The total prevalence (31.6%) is possibly the highest reported among healthy humans (a maximum of 9.8% and 2.0% in coprologic surveys in underdeveloped and developed countries, respectively) and one of the highest even in symptomatic subjects. No significant age and sex differences were observed. Such an infection prevalence is probably related to the poor sanitation conditions, contaminated water supplies, overcrowding, and close contact with domestic animals. Continuous exposure to the parasite could be associated with protection against parasite-related symptoms in the children examined.