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Serological Studies of Neurologic Helminthic Infections in Rural Areas of Southwest Cameroon: Toxocariasis, Cysticercosis and Paragonimiasis

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000732

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Abstract:

Background Both epilepsy and paragonimiasis had been known to be endemic in Southwest Cameroon. A total of 188 people (168 and 20 with and without symptoms confirmed by clinicians, respectively, 84.6% under 20 years old) were selected on a voluntary basis. Among 14 people (8.3%) with history of epilepsy, only one suffered from paragonimiasis. Therefore, we challenged to check antibody responses to highly specific diagnostic recombinant antigens for two other helminthic diseases, cysticercosis and toxocariasis, expected to be involved in neurological diseases. Soil-transmitted helminthic infections were also examined. Methodology/Principal Findings Fecal samples were collected exclusively from the 168 people. Eggs of Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and hookworms were found from 56 (33.3%), 72 (42.8%), and 19 (11.3%) persons, respectively. Serology revealed that 61 (36.3%), 25 (14.9%) and 2 (1.2%) of 168 persons showed specific antibody responses to toxocariasis, paragonimiasis and cysticercosis, respectively. By contrast, 20 people without any symptoms as well as additional 20 people from Japan showed no antibody responses. Among the 14 persons with epilepsy, 5 persons were seropositive to the antigen specific to Toxocara, and one of them was simultaneously positive to the antigens of Paragonimus. The fact that 2 children with no history of epilepsy were serologically confirmed to have cysticercosis strongly suggests that serological survey for cysticercosis in children is expected to be useful for early detection of asymptomatic cysticercosis in endemic areas. Conclusions/Significance Among persons surveyed, toxocariasis was more common than paragonimiasis, but cysticercosis was very rare. However, the fact that 2 children were serologically confirmed to have cysticercosis was very important, since it strongly suggests that serology for cysticercosis is useful and feasible for detection of asymptomatic cysticercotic children in endemic areas for the early treatment.

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