Risk factors associated with asymptomatic infection by Leishmania chagasi in north-east Brazil

Caldas, A.J.M.; Costa, J.M.L.; Silva, A.A.M.; Vinhas, V.; Barral, A.
January 2002
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene;Jan2002, Vol. 96 Issue 1, p21
Academic Journal
Various factors have been associated with a predisposition to the development of clinical American visceral leishmaniasis (AVL). However, little information is available about the factors that predispose to asymptomatic infection. To identify the risk factors associated with asymptomatic infection, a study was carried out between July 1997 and June 1998 on children aged 0–5 years in the districts of Vila Nova and Bom Viver in the municipality of Raposa in the island of São Luís, State of Maranhão, Brazil. A questionnaire containing socioeconomic, demographic and epidemiological data was used. The delayedtype hypersensitivity (DTH) test was carried out on 639 children in the first phase, and on 572 in the second, 7 months after the first survey, using Leishmania amazonensis antigen. Infection was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in 638 children during the first phase, and in 572 during the second. Six outcome measures were used: initial prevalence, final prevalence and incidence, each determined by DTH and ELISA. The incidence of infection was 10 · 8% when determined by DTH and 28 · 5% when determined by ELISA. After adjustment for confounding variables using Cox regression, infection by L. chagasi was associated with child''s age (2 years), location of the dwellings (Vila Nova) and reporting of relatives with AVL. Bathing outside the house and playing outdoors between 18:00 and 20:00 were identified as risk factors in some analyses but not in others. Presence of intra- and peridomestic Lutzomyia sandflies and animals such as dogs or chickens in the house or in the neighbourhood appeared as risk factors in some analyses but in others they unexpectedly seemed to protect from infection. Malnutrition was not found to be associated with infection.


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