Parasitic Diseases and Veterinary Public Health Division, Bureau of Epidemiology, Center for Disease Control, Public Health Service, U. S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Atlanta, Georgia 30333
The most serious consequences of infection with the large roundworm, Ascaris lumbricoides, are complications requiring surgical intervention, particularly intestinal obstruction caused by a bolus of worms. A study was conducted to estimate the incidence of this complication among infected children in an area of the southeastern United States where ascariasis is endemic. A chart review at three rural Louisiana public hospitals revealed that 21 patients had been hospitalized with intestinal obstruction secondary to ascariasis over a 3-year period. The prevalence of ascariasis in three parishes (counties) served by these hosptials was calculated from the results of 2,360 stool examinations performed by the State Health Department and one hospital laboratory. The prevalence of ascariasis in 1- to 5-year-old children was similar to that in 6- to 12-year-olds and ranged from 8% to 28% in the three parishes. Prevalence rates were three times higher for blacks than for whites. It was found that most cases of intestinal obstruction occur in children in the 1- to 5-year age group and that this incidence approximates two such complications per 1,000 infected children per year.
Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, Parasitic Diseases Branch.
Chief, Parasitic Diseases Branch, Bureau of Epidemiology.