Evidence and potential drivers of neglected parasitic helminth and protist infections among a small preliminary sample of children from rural Mississippi

Tara J. Cepon-Robins, Elizabeth K. Mallott, Isabella C. Recca, Theresa E. Gildner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Intestinal infections with helminths (parasitic worms) and protists (single-celled eukaryotes) may be neglected health issues in low-resource communities across the United States. Because they predominantly infect school-aged children and can lead to nutritional deficiencies and developmental delays, these infections can affect lifelong health. More research is needed to understand the prevalence and risk factors of these parasitic infections in the United States. Methods: A total of 24 children (ages 0.5–14 years) from a low-resource, rural Mississippi Delta community provided stool samples for 18s rRNA amplification and sequencing to determine infection presence. Parent/guardian interviews provided age, sex, and household size to test for associations with infection. Results: Infections were found in 38% (n = 9) of the samples. 25% (n = 6) of participants were infected with helminths (platyhelminths [n = 5]; nematodes [n = 2]), while 21% (n = 5) were infected with protists (Blastocystis [n = 4]; Cryptosporidium [n = 1]). There were no associations between infection status and age, sex, or household size. Problematically, analytical methods did not allow for more specific classifications for helminth species. Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest parasitic infections may be overlooked health issues in the rural Mississippi Delta and emphasize the need for more research on potential health outcomes within the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23889
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Volume35
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2023

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