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Acta Médica Costarricense

On-line version ISSN 0001-6002Print version ISSN 0001-6012


SOLANO-BARQUERO, Melissa et al. Prevalence of parasitosis in children aged 1 to 7 years in vulnerable condition in the South Central Region of Costa Rica. Acta méd. costarric [online]. 2018, vol.60, n.2, pp.19-29. ISSN 0001-6002.


To determine the prevalence of parasitosis in children in Costa Rica and its association with socioeconomic factors.


We conducted a cross-sectional study to assess the prevalence of intestinal parasites and commensals in children aged 1-7 years old, from 13 centers with two types of food distribution programs. We administered a structured questionnaire, which included some questions from the 2014 Costa Rican National Home Survey, to most of the parents who consented for their children to participate in the study (n=2435 out of 2514). We collected stool samples from children (n=1368; 54,0%) and then analyzed them using a direct smear and Kato assembly. Odds ratios (OR) and chi-square tests were calculated and a binary logistic regression model was fitted to assess the associations between socioeconomic characteristics of the children’s families and the probability of having an intestinal parasitic infection.


The prevalence of commensal protozoans, pathogenic protozoans, helminthes, or a combination of them (referred to henceforth as CPH) was 24.1% (95% CI: 21.9-26.4), whereas prevalences of pathogenic parasites and helmithiasis were 8.5% (95% CI: 7.5-10.5) and 0.7% (95% CI: 0.1-1.5), respectively. The most prevalent pathogenic parasite was Giardia intestinalis (8.0%), the most frequent commensal protozoan was Endolimax nana (7.7%), and the most prevalent helminth was Ascaris lumbricoides (0.4%). There were no significant differences in the prevalence of CPH or parasitosis by sex or nutritional program. The highest prevalences of CPH and parasitosis were observed in La Uruca (46.9% and 17.2%, respectively) and the lowest in Paso Ancho (7.7% and 0%, respectively). Being 5 years old or above, living in a house with walls made up of waste material or zinc, having a non-suitable house (i.e., indigenous housing, living in a small room inside a quartery house, slums, mobile housing, pension, or convent), and having more than 4 family members were identified as risk factors for having a CPH.


The CPH prevalence found in this study was lower than the one observed in the Costa Rican National Nutritional Survey 2008-2009 (32.6%). However, this study shows that there are several permissive conditions that allow the transmission of intestinal parasites and that it is necessary to improve the preventive and treatment measures of intestinal parasites.

Keywords : Intestinal parasites; children; CEN-CINAI; Costa Rica.

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