Albendazole Therapy and Enteric Parasites in United States–Bound Refugees

New England Journal of Medicine, 04/26/2012

Presumptive albendazole therapy administered overseas before departure for the United States was associated with a decrease in the prevalence of intestinal nematodes among newly arrived African and Southeast Asian refugees.

Methods

  • The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study involving 26,956 African and Southeast Asian refugees who were screened by means of microscopical examination of stool specimens for intestinal parasites on resettlement in Minnesota between 1993 and 2007.
  • Adjusted prevalence ratios for intestinal nematodes, schistosoma species, giardia, and entamoeba were calculated among refugees who migrated before versus those who migrated after the CDC recommendation of presumptive predeparture albendazole treatment.

Results

  • Among 4370 untreated refugees, 20.8% had at least one stool nematode, most commonly hookworm (in 9.2%).
  • Among 22,586 albendazole–treated refugees, only 4.7% had one or more nematodes, most commonly trichuris (in 3.9%).
  • After adjustment for sex, age, and region, albendazole–treated refugees were less likely than untreated refugees to have any nematodes (prevalence ratio, 0.19), ascaris (prevalence ratio, 0.06), hookworm (prevalence ratio, 0.07), or trichuris (prevalence ratio, 0.27) but were not less likely to have giardia or entamoeba.
  • Schistosoma ova were identified exclusively among African refugees and were less prevalent among those treated with albendazole (prevalence ratio, 0.60).
  • After implementation of the albendazole protocol, the most common pathogens among 17,011 African refugees were giardia (in 5.7%), trichuris (in 5.0%), and schistosoma (in 1.8%); among 5575 Southeast Asian refugees, only giardia remained highly prevalent (present in 17.2%).
  • No serious adverse events associated with albendazole use were reported.

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