Intestinal parasitic infections in rural west Malaysia

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Intestinal parasitic infections have a worldwide distribution and have been identified as one of the most significant causes of illnesses and diseases among disadvantaged populations. A study finds that intestinal parasitic infections are highly prevalent (nearly 75 percent) among the poor rural communities in west Malaysia.

Soil-transmitted helminth infections (73.2 percent) were significantly more common compared to protozoa infections (21.4 percent). Those aged 12 years and younger showed significantly higher rates of intestinal parasitic infections.

Poverty and low socioeconomic with poor environmental sanitation were indicated as important predictors of these types of infections.

“Effective poverty reduction programs, promotion of deworming, and mass campaigns to heighten awareness on health and hygiene are urgently needed to reduce [intestinal parasitic infections],” the study concluded.

1. Ngui R, Ishak S, Chuen CS, et al. Prevalence and risk factors of intestinal parasitism in rural and remote west Malaysia. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 2011; 5(3): e974. (open access)

Dengue incidence higher in Cambodia than previously reported

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A large-scale active surveillance study for dengue fever in Cambodia found a higher disease incidence than reported to the national surveillance system, particularly in preschool children and that disease incidence was high in both rural and urban areas. It also confirmed the previously observed focal nature of dengue virus transmission.

1. Vong S, Khieu V, Glass O, et al. Dengue incidence in urban and rural Cambodia: results from population-based active fever surveillance, 2006-2008. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 2010; 4(11): e903. (open access)

Best practices in dengue fever surveillance

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Dengue Mosquito

A meeting organized by the Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative brought together dengue fever experts from 22 endemic countries in Asia-Pacific and the Americas to identify best practices in dengue surveillance.

Through presentations, facilitated discussions and surveys, the experts identified the following recommendations for achieving the best possible data from dengue surveillance:

  1. Every dengue endemic country should make reporting of dengue cases to the government mandatory.
  2. Electronic reporting systems should be developed and used.
  3. At minimum dengue surveillance data should include incidence, hospitalization rates and deaths by age group.
  4. Additional studies should be completed to check the sensitivity of the system.
  5. Laboratories should share expertise and data.
  6. Tests that identify the dengue virus should be used in patients with fever for four days or less and antibody tests should be used after day 4 to diagnose dengue.
  7. Early detection and prediction of dengue outbreaks should be goals for national surveillance systems.

Dengue fever is a virus infection that is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and can cause severe disease especially in children. It is a major problem in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Dengue fever produces a spectrum of clinical illness that ranges from an influenza-like illness to a fatal shock syndrome. Most patients that progress to shock first develop a more severe form of infection called dengue hemorrhagic fever.

It is estimated that 3.6 billion people in 124 countries are at-risk for infection and 500 million people are infected each year. Over two million cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever occur annually, and approximately 21,000 deaths are likely attributable to dengue.

1. Beatty ME, Stone A, Fitzsimons DW, et al. Best practices in dengue surveillance: a report from the Asia-Pacific and
Americas Dengue Prevention Boards. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 2010; 4(11): e890. (open access)