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Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal:
Original Studies

Infectious diseases in sub-Saharan African immigrant children in Madrid, Spain

HUERGA, HELENA MD; LÓPEZ-VÉLEZ, ROGELIO MD

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Abstract

Background. Immigration flow from developing countries to European countries is growing continually, but data about imported infectious diseases in immigrant children are few.

Methods. Descriptive and retrospective study of 125 sub-Saharan African children <14 years of age attending a tropical medicine referral unit in Madrid, Spain, between 1989 and 2001.

Results. Of the 125 children 79% had 1 or more symptoms. The remaining 21% (26 cases) were asymptomatic and were screened for infectious diseases. Of them 57.7% (15 cases) had 1 or more infectious diseases. Significant association (P < 0.05) was found between fever and malaria, between cutaneous pruritus and filariasis and between eosinophilia and filariasis and intestinal helminthiasis. Seventy-nine percent had infectious pathology and 33.3% were infected by 3 or more agents. Fifty-six (44.8%) cases of malaria were diagnosed: 7 (12.5%) were asymptomatic; 43 (76.8%) were caused by Plasmodium falciparum and 5 (8.9%) were mixed malarial infections. Intestinal parasitic infection was diagnosed in 44 (49.4%) of the 89 cases investigated. No significant difference existed between gastrointestinal symptoms and the presence of intestinal parasites (P > 0.05). Thirty-nine (21.9%) cases of filariasis were diagnosed. Hepatitis B serology was performed in 75 children: 24 (32%) were cured hepatitis B (antibody-positive only); 5 (6.6%) were hepatitis B surface antigen-positive; and 1 of 59 cases (1.7%) was hepatitis C-positive. The prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection was 12.9% (7 of 54 purified protein derivative skin tests performed).

Conclusions. The high infection rates of some diseases in immigrant children point to the need for screening sub-Saharan African children.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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