Onchocerciasis in San Vicente Pacaya, Guatemala

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  • Department of Parasitic Diseases, Kumamoto University School of Medicine, Department of Parasitology, Institute for Tropical Medicine, Nagasaki University, Servicio Nacional de Erradicacion de la Malaria, Ministerio de Salud Publica, Department of Medical Zoology, Kanazawa Medical University, Department of Medical Zoology, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Department of Medical Zoology, Faculty of Medicine, Nagoya City University, Kumamoto, Japan

An epidemiological survey for onchocerciasis was carried out in the San Vicente Pacaya area of Guatemala. A total of 2,153 inhabitants were examined by a single skin snip, and 664 (30.8%) were positive for microfilariae. Slit lamp examination of the anterior chamber of the eye revealed microfilariae in 6.2%; the positive rate for microfilariae in the anterior chamber was proportional to the microfilarial density in the skin. The altitude-dependent character of onchocercal infection was shown in this mountainous area, suggesting that transmission occurs principally between 600 and 1,300 m. Of 1,217 persons examined simultaneously by skin snip and by palpation for nodules, 587 were positive by one or both methods; 101 infections were detected by onchocercal nodules only and these were usually in children or persons living in areas of low endemicity. It was concluded that both the skin snip and a search for nodules are required for accurately determining the prevalence of onchocerciasis in Guatemala.

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