Population-based cross -sectional survey on intestinal helminth infections with a focus on taeniasis among residents of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

Casey E Barton, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Few studies have been conducted on the epidemiology of enteric infectious diseases of public health importance in communities along the United States-Mexico border, and these studies typically focus on bacterial and viral diseases. The epidemiology of intestinal helminth infections along the border has not recently been explored, and there are no published reports for El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, both of which are high traffic urban areas along the Texas-Mexico border. The purpose of this research project was to conduct a cross-sectional epidemiologic survey for enteric helminths of medical importance along the Texas-Mexico border region of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez and to evaluate risk factors for exposure to these parasites. In addition, an emphasis was placed on the zoonotic tapeworm, Taenia solium. This tapeworm is especially important in this region because of the increasing incidence of neurocysticercosis, a severe disease spread by carriers of intestinal T. solium. Fecal samples were collected from individuals of all ages in a population-based cross-sectional household survey and evaluated for the presence of helminth parasites using fecal flotations. In addition, a Taenia coproantigen enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was performed on each stool sample to identify tapeworm carriers. A standardized questionnaire was administered to identify risk factors and routes of exposure for enteric helminth infections with additional questions to assess risk factors specific for taeniasis. The actual prevalence of taeniasis along the Texas-Mexico border was unknown, and this is the first population-based study performed in this region. Flotations were performed on 395 samples and four (1%) were positive for helminths including Ascaris, hookworms and Taenia species. Immunodiagnostic testing demonstrated a prevalence of 2.9% (11/378) for taeniasis. Based on the case definition, a 3% (12/395) prevalence of taeniasis was detected in this area. In addition, statistical analyses indicate that residents of El Paso are 8.5 times more likely to be a tapeworm carrier compared to residents of Juarez (PR=8.5, 95% CI=2.35, 30.81). This finding has important implications in terms of planning effective health education campaigns to decrease the prevalence of enteric helminths in populations along the Texas-Mexico border.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Barton, Casey E, "Population-based cross -sectional survey on intestinal helminth infections with a focus on taeniasis among residents of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3198328.