• 1.

    Siddiqui AA, Berk SL, 2001. Diagnosis of Strongyloides stercoralis infection. Clin Infect Dis 33: 10401047.

  • 2.

    Berk SL, Verghese A, Alvarez S, Hall K, Smith B, 1987. Clinical and epidemiologic features of strongyloidiasis. A prospective study in rural Tennessee. Arch Intern Med 147: 12571261.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3.

    Walzer PD, Milder JE, Banwell JG, Kilgore G, Klein M, Parker R, 1982. Epidemiologic features of Strongyloides stercoralis infection in an endemic area of the United States. Am J Trop Med Hyg 31: 313319.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4.

    Starr MC, Montgomery SP, 2011. Soil-transmitted helminthiasis in the United States: a systematic review–1940–2010. Am J Trop Med Hyg 85: 680684.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5.

    Bethony J, Brooker S, Albonico M, Geiger SM, Loukas A, Diemert D, Hotez PJ, 2006. Soil-transmitted helminth infections: ascariasis, trichuriasis, and hookworm. Lancet 367: 15211532.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6.

    Blumenthal DS, Schultz MG, 1975. Incidence of intestinal obstruction in children infected with Ascaris lumbricoides. Am J Trop Med Hyg 24: 801805.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7.

    Martin LK, 1972. Hookworm in Georgia. I. Survey of intestinal helminth infections and anemia in rural school children. Am J Trop Med Hyg 21: 919929.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8.

    Croker C, Reporter R, Redelings M, Mascola L, 2010. Strongyloidiasis-related deaths in the United States, 1991–2006. Am J Trop Med Hyg 83: 422426.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 9.

    Rural Community Assistance Partnership, 2004. Rural Community Assistance Partnership I. Still Living Without the Basics in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: Rural Community Assistance Partnership.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 10.

    Glassmeier A, 2006. Distressed Regions. An Atlas of Poverty in America: One Nation, Pulling Apart, 1960–2003. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis Group, LLC, pp 5180.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11.

    Davis S, Bosserman E, Russell ES, Montgomery S, Woodhall D, 2013. Notes from the field: strongyloidiasis in a rural setting - Southeaster KY, 2013. MMWR 62: 843.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

 

 

 

 

 

Prevalence of Strongyloides stercoralis Antibodies among a Rural Appalachian Population—Kentucky, 2013

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  • Kentucky Department for Public Health, Frankfort, Kentucky; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky

We investigated whether Strongyloides infection remains endemic in rural Kentucky's Appalachian regions; 7 of 378 (1.9%) participants tested positive for Strongyloides antibodies. We identified no statistically significant association between a positive test and travel to a known endemic country (P = 0.58), indicating that transmission in rural Kentucky might be ongoing.

Brief Report

Strongyloides stercoralis infections occur in many countries around the world and are most prevalent in tropical environments with limited sanitation.1 In the United States, endemic infection prevalence has not been quantified since the early 1980s,2,3 when studies in the Appalachia regions of Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee reported the prevalence of S. stercoralis infection as approximately 3.0% among children residing in those regions.4 Children can experience substantial consequences of long-term helminth infection, including stunted growth and delays in cognitive development, which affect school performance and future earning potential.57 S. stercoralis infection can remain latent for decades; life-threatening systemic hyperinfection can occur when an infected person becomes immunocompromised by medications or other conditions.8 Strongyloidiasis deaths in the United States during 1991–2006 occurred in people with a median age of 66 years and mainly among white men born in the Southeast who had immunosuppressive conditions.8

S. stercoralis infection occurs through exposure to stool-contaminated soil by either ingesting or skin contact with soil containing larvae. Risk for transmission increases if infected persons use outdoor toilets, which may have inadequate sewage disposal and fecal management, thus transmitting infection to others through exposure to contaminated soil during work or play. Prevalence of these infections in the United States might have decreased through time as a result of improvements in sanitation9; however, this assumption has not been tested. Rural populations in the United States, where infections are most likely to continue, are difficult to reach and less likely than others to access medical care.10

Remote Area Medical (RAM; Knoxville, TN) clinics provide free medical, dental, and vision services to underserved populations; residents of these communities have a high historical prevalence of parasitic infections.4 Kentucky RAM mobile clinics were held in two rural Appalachian communities over one weekend each in 2013. We conducted a cross-sectional study of S. stercoralis antibody positivity among RAM clinic patients to identify risk factors for infection and determine whether additional more comprehensive studies are warranted. We previously published results of the first weekend clinic, finding S. stercoralis antibodies in 5 of 102 participants tested (5% prevalence).11 Below, we present the results from both Kentucky clinics.

The study was approved by the Institutional Review Boards of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All RAM clinic attendees were approached on entry to the clinic and invited to participate in the study. Participants aged ≥ 18 years old provided written consent, and parents or guardians provided written consent for participants aged < 18 years old. We administered a risk factor questionnaire through person-to-person interview that requested the following demographic information: age, sex, travel history (including military service), and type of toilet at their residence. The survey data and test results were entered into a Microsoft Access (Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA) database and imported into SAS 9.3 (SAS Institute, Inc., Cary, NC). Fisher's exact test and Student's t test were used to compare dichotomous and continuous outcomes, respectively.

Approximately 100 μL blood for serum isolation was collected at the time of survey administration by finger stick. Samples were stored in a cooler for ≤ 48 hours and then brought to the laboratory of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for S. stercoralis antibody testing. Two tests were used: the crude antigen enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (CrAg ELISA) and the NIE immunoassay (using the MagPlex technology; Luminex Corp., Austin, TX) recently developed at the CDC. In the validation testing by the CDC, the CrAg ELISA had a slightly higher sensitivity (96% versus 93%, respectively) and a similarly high specificity (98% versus 97%, respectively). Positive results are consistent with current or previous S. stercoralis infection but do not differentiate between the two infections. All samples from the first weekend clinic were tested on both assays, whereas samples from the second clinic were only tested on the MagPlex immunoassay. Serum samples with discrepant results between tests were rerun on both assays, and if a positive result was repeated on either test, the result was reported as positive. The CDC notified all study participants of their test results and ensured access to free treatment as necessary.

Overall, 24% of RAM clinic attendees (381 of 1,584) participated in our study. Of these participants, a serum sample laboratory result was available for 99% (N = 378). The median age of participants for whom laboratory results were available was 46 years old (range = 3–79 years old), and 67% (N = 254) were female. Only 2.1% (N = 8) of respondents used an outdoor toilet. Ninety-six percent (N = 364) were born in the United States; 12% (N = 47) of participants reported lifetime travel to an S. stercoralis-endemic country (Table 1).

Table 1

Characteristics of study participants stratified by S. stercoralis antibody test results in Kentucky in 2013

 S. stercoralis antibody test resultsP value
PositiveNegative
Demographics7371 
 Age (years), median (range)49 (21–69)45.5 (3–79)0.47
 Female, n (%)6 (86)248 (67)0.43
Risk factors, n (%)
 Born in the United States 7 (100)364 (98)1.0
 Travel to Strongyloides-endemic area*1 (14)46 (13)0.58
 Only indoor flush toilet6 (86)362 (98)0.17
 Any outdoor toilet use1 (14)7 (2)0.14

Only 1.9% of participants (N = 7) tested positive for evidence of current or previous Strongyloides infection, including one participant who had traveled to a country currently known to be endemic for this parasite (Table 1); 1 of 7 (14%) participants who tested positive and 7 of 371 (2%) participants who tested negative reported using an outdoor toilet (P = 0.14) (Table 1). Also of note is that two positive participants were younger than 35 years old (21 and 31 years old with no travel reported) or 29% of positives. These participants had to have been infected in the past two to three decades. Because 127 or 34% of total participants were also under age 35 years and because ages were not significantly different between positives and negatives (Table 1), the percentage of infected participants under 35 years old is proportionate and provides no evidence for increasing or decreasing incidence, although numbers are too small to draw conclusions. The fact that they were identified in this relatively small study prevents us from concluding that transmission is not ongoing and that S. stercoralis is no longer endemic in the region.

On the basis of these findings, concern exists that residents in remote areas of Kentucky continue to be exposed to S. stercoralis. Additional research should be conducted in rural Appalachian communities to quantify the ongoing burden of and risk factors associated with infection to provide treatment to those infected and education for prevention for those at highest risk.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We thank Kentucky Remote Area Medical for their cooperation and kind assistance during the study.

  • 1.

    Siddiqui AA, Berk SL, 2001. Diagnosis of Strongyloides stercoralis infection. Clin Infect Dis 33: 10401047.

  • 2.

    Berk SL, Verghese A, Alvarez S, Hall K, Smith B, 1987. Clinical and epidemiologic features of strongyloidiasis. A prospective study in rural Tennessee. Arch Intern Med 147: 12571261.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3.

    Walzer PD, Milder JE, Banwell JG, Kilgore G, Klein M, Parker R, 1982. Epidemiologic features of Strongyloides stercoralis infection in an endemic area of the United States. Am J Trop Med Hyg 31: 313319.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4.

    Starr MC, Montgomery SP, 2011. Soil-transmitted helminthiasis in the United States: a systematic review–1940–2010. Am J Trop Med Hyg 85: 680684.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5.

    Bethony J, Brooker S, Albonico M, Geiger SM, Loukas A, Diemert D, Hotez PJ, 2006. Soil-transmitted helminth infections: ascariasis, trichuriasis, and hookworm. Lancet 367: 15211532.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6.

    Blumenthal DS, Schultz MG, 1975. Incidence of intestinal obstruction in children infected with Ascaris lumbricoides. Am J Trop Med Hyg 24: 801805.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7.

    Martin LK, 1972. Hookworm in Georgia. I. Survey of intestinal helminth infections and anemia in rural school children. Am J Trop Med Hyg 21: 919929.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8.

    Croker C, Reporter R, Redelings M, Mascola L, 2010. Strongyloidiasis-related deaths in the United States, 1991–2006. Am J Trop Med Hyg 83: 422426.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 9.

    Rural Community Assistance Partnership, 2004. Rural Community Assistance Partnership I. Still Living Without the Basics in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: Rural Community Assistance Partnership.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 10.

    Glassmeier A, 2006. Distressed Regions. An Atlas of Poverty in America: One Nation, Pulling Apart, 1960–2003. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis Group, LLC, pp 5180.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11.

    Davis S, Bosserman E, Russell ES, Montgomery S, Woodhall D, 2013. Notes from the field: strongyloidiasis in a rural setting - Southeaster KY, 2013. MMWR 62: 843.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Elizabeth B. Gray, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE MS A06, Atlanta, GA, 30333. E-mail: EBGray@cdc.gov

Financial support: C.D. acknowledges travel support from an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health Grant 5P20GM103436-13.

Authors' addresses: Elizabeth S. Russell, Kentucky Department for Public Health, Frankfort, KY, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, E-mail: wjv4@cdc.gov. Elizabeth B. Gray, Rebekah E. Marshall, Stephanie Davis, Sukwan Handali, Isabel McAuliffe, and Dana Woodhall, Parasitic Diseases Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, E-mails: EBGray@cdc.gov, RMarshall@cdc.gov, vic6@cdc.gov, Shandali@cdc.gov, IMcAuliffe@cdc.gov, and DWoodhall@cdc.gov. Amanda Beaudoin, EIS Officer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, E-mail: ABeaudoin@cdc.gov. Cheryl Davis, Department of Biology, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY, E-mail: cheryl.davis@wku.edu.

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