Molecular and descriptive epidemiology of intestinal protozoan parasites of children and their pets in Cauca, Colombia: a cross-sectional study

Ximena Villamizar, Adriana Higuera, Giovanny Herrera, Luis Reinel Vasquez-A, Lorena Buitron, Lina Maria Muñoz, Fabiola E. Gonzalez-C, Myriam Consuelo Lopez, Julio Cesar Giraldo, Juan David Ramírez

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Background: Parasitic infections, particularly those caused by protozoa, represent a considerable public health problem in developing countries. Blastocystis, Giardia duodenalis, Cryptosporidium spp. and the Entamoeba complex (Entamoeba histolytica, Entamoeba dispar and Entamoeba moshkovskii) are the most common etiological causes of intestinal parasitic infections. Methods: We carried out a descriptive cross-sectional study in school-age children attending a daycare institution in commune eight of Popayán, Cauca (Southwest Colombia). A total of 266 fecal samples were collected (258 from children and eight from pets). Blastocystis, G. duodenalis, Cryptosporidium spp. and the Entamoeba complex were identified by microscopy, quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and conventional PCR. The concordance of qPCR and microscopy was assessed using the Kappa index. Molecular characterization was conducted to identify Blastocystis subtypes (18S), G. duodenalis assemblages (tpi and gdh) and Cryptosporidium species/subtypes (18S and GP60). Potential associations between intestinal parasitism and sociodemographic factors were examined using bivariate analyses. Results: A total of 258 fecal samples from children were analyzed by microscopy and 255 samples were analyzed by qPCR. The prevalence of Blastocystis was between 25.19% (microscopy) and 39.22% (qPCR), that of G. duodenalis was between 8.14% (microscopy) and 10.59% (qPCR), that of Cryptosporidium spp. was estimated at 9.8% (qPCR), and that of the Entamoeba complex was between 0.39% (conventional PCR) and 0.78% (microscopy). The concordance between microscopy and qPCR was very low. Blastocystis ST1 (alleles 4, 8, and 80), ST2 (alleles 11, 12, and 15), ST3 (alleles 31, 34, 36, 38,57, and 151), and ST4 (alleles 42 and 91), G. duodenalis assemblages AII, BIII, BIV and D, C. parvum subtype IIa and C. hominis subtype IbA9G3R2 were identified. The only identified member of the Entamoeba complex corresponded to E. histolytica. No statistically significant association was identified between parasitic infection and any sociodemographic variable. Conclusion: This study revealed the usefulness of molecular methods to depict the transmission dynamics of parasitic protozoa in southwest Colombia. The presence of some of these protozoa in domestic animals may be involved in their transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number190
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 26 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Infectious Diseases


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