Changing Pattern of Intestinal Helminth Infections in Jerusalem

View More View Less
  • Department of Medical Ecology, The Hebrew University—Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel

The city of Jerusalem has both Jewish and Arab populations that were separated by the armistice line from 1948 to 1967. Before 1948, infection rates for Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura had been high in both parts of the city. After separation of the city the rates fell rapidly and spontaneously in West (Israeli) Jerusalem and remained unchanged in East (Jordanian) Jerusalem. In the present investigation, 2 years after reunification of the city, stool specimens were examined from hospitalized patients and from clinical laboratories in both parts of the city. Quantitative counts were performed for the first time in this country. In East Jerusalem over 60% of stools examined were positive for Ascaris, with median counts above 5,400 eggs per g; in West Jerusalem Ascaris infection rose from less than 1% to over 10% with median counts between 500 and 600. Double infections were considerably commoner in East Jerusalem, where egg counts were 8.6 to 24 times higher than in the corresponding groups in West Jerusalem. The observed changes in the prevalence of these two infections in West Jerusalem are explained by the ingestion of contaminated food in restaurants in East Jerusalem and by renewed traffic of contaminated vegetables grown in East Jerusalem and Judea that reach the markets of West Jerusalem.

Author Notes

These results form part of a thesis to be submitted for the M.D. degree, Jerusalem.