A community-based study to examine the epidemiology of human cystic echinococcosis in Rio Negro Province, Argentina.
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Although cystic echinococcosis (CE) is an important public health problem in Rio Negro Province, current epidemiological data for CE, in this region of Argentina, are not available. Therefore, a community-based study, which incorporated diagnostic imaging and a questionnaire, was conducted in Ingeniero Jacobacci, a small town in southern Rio Negro Province. This study sought to assess the prevalence of human CE, in the study population, and to evaluate epidemiologic factors associated with CE transmission within the study area. Of the 560 individuals who volunteered to participate in the study, 189 (34%) were children and 371 (66%) were adults. All study participants were screened for CE using abdominal ultrasound scanning, with CE-positive or suspect individuals also receiving thoracic radiographs. The overall prevalence of CE was 7.1% (40/560), with 1.6% (3/189) of children, and 10% (37/371) of adults diagnosed as CE-positive. Although 92.5% (37/40) of the CE-positive individuals had only hepatic lesions, two participants had both hepatic and pulmonary lesions, and one participant had a single renal lesion. Approximately 92% (340/371) of the adult study participants completed the questionnaire, which was used to identify factors associated with an increased risk for human infection. Age, level of education, dog ownership, and contact with sheep were found to be significantly associated with CE status. This study demonstrated that CE continues to be highly endemic in this region of Rio Negro Province, Argentina. In addition, community-based ultrasound screening surveys are a noninvasive, effective approach to case detection at the community level.