Epidemiological survey of intestinal parasite infections: analytical bias due to prophylactic treatment

Intestinal parasite infections are a serious public health problem, mainly in underdeveloped countries, and are usually associated with (and aggravated by) poor sanitation and lack of information. This study evaluated a series of epidemiological parameters associated with the main intestinal parasites in different areas of the city of Assis, São Paulo State, Brazil. The data were compared with those obtained from a previous survey in 1991 and showed a reduction of three percentage points. There is evidence of prophylactic dispensing of drugs for parasites, before receiving the results of stool tests. This could have important epidemiological implications and lead to analytical distortions. This therapeutic approach could disguise unfavorable health and/or educational conditions, with a low prevalence of parasite infections due to repeated treatments rather than improvements in basic sanitation and health education for the population.

Parasitic Diseases; Health Surveys; Sanitary Profiles

Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Sergio Arouca, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz Rua Leopoldo Bulhões, 1480 , 21041-210 Rio de Janeiro RJ Brazil, Tel.:+55 21 2598-2511, Fax: +55 21 2598-2737 / +55 21 2598-2514 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil
E-mail: cadernos@ensp.fiocruz.br