Malaria, intestinal parasites, and schistosomiasis among Barawan Somali refugees resettling to the United States: a strategy to reduce morbidity and decrease the risk of imported infections.

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  • 1 Division of Quarantine, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.

In 1997, enhanced health assessments were performed for 390 (10%) of approximately 4,000 Barawan refugees resettling to the United States. Of the refugees who received enhanced assessments, 26 (7%) had malaria parasitemia and 128 (38%) had intestinal parasites, while only 2 (2%) had Schistosoma haematobium eggs in the urine. Mass therapy for malaria (a single oral dose of 25 mg/kg of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine) was given to all Barawan refugees 1-2 days before resettlement. Refugees >2 years of age and nonpregnant women received a single oral dose of 600 mg albendazole for intestinal parasite therapy. If mass therapy had not been provided, upon arrival in the United States an estimated 280 (7%) refugees would have had malaria infections and 1,500 (38%) would have had intestinal parasites. We conclude that enhanced health assessments provided rapid on-site assessment of parasite prevalence and helped decrease morbidity among Barawan refugees, as well as, the risk of imported infections.