Publications

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    ABSTRACT: We evaluated the effect of a local government unit-led, school-based, teacher-assisted mass drug administration (MDA) treatment of soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) on the morbidity of school children in selected provinces of western Visayas, the Philippines. Parasitological assessment was done on stool samples using the Kato-Katz technique. Nutritional status and school performance were also evaluated using secondary data from the Department of Education. The overall prevalence of STH decreased from 71.1% to 44.3% (p < 0.0001) and the prevalence of heavy infection with STH decreased from 40.5% to 14.5% (p < 0.0001), after two years of biannual MDA. The prevalence of underweight children decreased from 26.2% to 17.8% (p < 0.0001) and the prevalence of stunted children decreased from 20.9% to 16.6% (p < 0.0001) after two years of biannual MDA. School performance improved on standardized testing from a mean percentage of 53.8% to 64.6%. Advocacy, social mobilization, strong local government support and intersectoral collaboration with other agencies probably contributed to the success of the program.
    The Southeast Asian journal of tropical medicine and public health 05/2014; 45(3):556-67. · 0.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The latest World Health Organization (WHO) strategic plan for eliminating soil-transmitted helminthiases (STHs) as a public health problem in children puts the emphasis on school-age children. On the other hand, the Philippine national helminth control program excludes secondary school students in mass deworming for STH. This study determined the prevalence and intensity of STH in a sample of 633 students (14-15 years old) in selected secondary schools in two Philippine provinces. Stool specimens were processed following the Kato-Katz technique and examined for the presence of helminth ova. Overall cumulative prevalence of STH was 31.3%, while prevalence of moderate-heavy-intensity infections was 7.7%, well beyond the WHO target of ≤1% for reducing morbidity in school-age children. Recommendations were made to update the Philippine helminth control program and to re-examine the WHO strategic plan so that helminth prevention and control strategies may also be emphasized for secondary school students especially in high-prevalence areas.
    Journal of Tropical Pediatrics 04/2014; · 1.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) and paragonimiasis remain as health problems in certain areas in the Philippines. Both share similar clinical manifestations, which include chronic productive cough, hemoptysis, dyspnea, fever, weight loss, and night sweats. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of PTB, paragonimiasis, and co-infections in Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines. Methods: This study was conducted in selected villages in two municipalities in Zamboanga del Norte. Patients with chronic cough were interviewed, examined, and requested to submit two sputum samples which were processed using Ziehl-Neelsen method to detect acid-fast bacilli (AFB), and NaOH concentration technique for the detection of Paragonimus ova. Results: A total of 836 patients submitted sputum samples for examination. Prevalence was 6·7% (2·5-12·7%) for paragonimiasis and 1·9% (0·9-6·3%) for PTB. Co-infection rate was 0·3%, with two identified cases. Positivity rates for males and females were 9·6 and 5·8% for paragonimiasis and 3·4 and 1·2% for PTB. Conclusion: Pulmonary tuberculosis and paragonimiasis are co-endemic in Zamboanga del Norte, suggesting the need to integrate surveillance and control efforts. Strengthening local health systems through collaboration between different sectors is recommended for effective disease control. Development of more sensitive diagnostic tests is important for more accurate disease surveillance.
    Pathogens and global health. 03/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The World Health Organization recommends anthelminthic treatment for pregnant women after the first trimester in soil-transmitted helminth (STH) endemic regions to prevent adverse maternal-fetal consequences. Although studies have shown the high prevalence of infection in the Philippines, no research has evaluated deworming practices. We hypothesized that pregnant women are not receiving deworming treatment and we aimed to identify barriers to World Health Organization guideline implementation. We conducted key informant interviews with local Department of Health (DOH) administrators, focus group discussions with nurses, midwives, and health care workers, and knowledge, attitudes, and practices surveys with women of reproductive age to elicit perspectives about deworming during pregnancy. Key informant interviews revealed that healthcare workers were not deworming pregnant women due to inadequate drug supply, infrastructure and personnel as well as fear of teratogenicity. Focus group discussions showed that healthcare workers similarly had not implemented guidelines due to infrastructure challenges and concerns for fetal malformations. The majority of local women believed that STH treatment causes side effects (74.8%) as well as maternal harm (67.3%) and fetal harm (77.9%). Women who were willing to take anthelminthics while pregnant had significantly greater knowledge as demonstrated by higher Treatment Scores (mean rank 146.92 versus 103.1, z = -4.40, p<0.001) and higher Birth Defect Scores (mean rank 128.09 versus 108.65, z = -2.43, p = 0.015). This study concludes that World Health Organization guidelines are not being implemented in the Philippines. Infrastructure, specific protocols, and education for providers and patients regarding anthelminthic treatment are necessary for the successful prevention of STH morbidity and mortality among pregnant women.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(2):e85992. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We determined the attitudes toward and practices regarding soil-transmitted helminthes (STH) control among parents and school teachers to identify reasons behind attitudes and practices that do not promote STH control. Written knowledge, attitudes and practices surveys were distributed to parents (N = 531) and teachers (N = 105) of students at 11 elementary schools in Guimaras Province, the Philippines. The survey addressed attitudes about mass drug administration (MDA), knowledge about STH control, hygienic practices, and acceptability of distributing deworming tablets among teachers. More than 90% of parents and teachers held favorable attitudes towards MDA. Sixty-nine percent of parents and 75.5% of teachers believed stool exams were necessary before MDA. Thirty-seven percent of parents stated they would not allow teachers to administer deworming tablets and 91.5% of parents feared teachers would not detect side effects of the medication. Forty-eight percent of teachers felt they could safely give deworming tablets and 81.4% of teachers were afraid of managing the side effects of deworming tablets. Forty-seven point eight percent of parents and 42.2% of teachers stated defecation in the open occured in their community. Although attitudes toward STH control were largely favorable, misconceptions about the MDA strategy, lack of support for teachers giving deworming tablets, and the practice of open defecation still exist as barriers to STH control efforts. The next step to achieve effective STH control will be to clarify misconceptions in education campaigns, to train teachers about medication administration, campaign to improve sanitation and hygiene and begin targeted mass treatment in Guimaras, the Philippines.
    The Southeast Asian journal of tropical medicine and public health 09/2013; 44(5):744-52. · 0.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Praziquantel typically requires weight-based field administration when used to treat helminthic diseases. Proper dosage adjustment of praziquantel by bodyweight can be difficult to achieve if accurate weighing scales are unavailable. The WHO has recommended for use a dose pole that substitutes height for weight during field administrations of praziquantel. This cross-sectional study aims to validate the WHO dose pole for Philippine populations using height and drug administration data collected from 1427 Filipino schoolchildren. This study expands upon prior studies by specifically targeting Filipino schoolchildren and by introducing statistical techniques to increase the rigor of the validation process. The study found an average dose of 42.7 mg per kg (mg/kg) administered among 1427 students with a standard deviation of 3.5 mg/kg. The dose pole estimated a WHO-recommended dose (40-60 mg/kg) in 93.5% of students and a WHO-accepted dose (30-60 mg/kg) in 99.7% of all students. The 95% CIs showed that 99-100% of all tested students fell within the WHO-accepted dose range, while 91-93% of all tested students fell within the WHO-recommended dose range. The results suggest that the WHO dose pole is valid for mass treatment of Filipino schoolchildren with praziquantel. Further validation studies are recommended.
    Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 08/2013; · 1.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study was a follow-up to the baseline nationwide survey of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections in preschool-aged children in the Philippines and in school-aged children in selected sentinel sites to assess the Integrated Helminth Control Program of the Department of Health. The objective of the study was to describe the current prevalence and intensity of STH infections in preschool-aged and school-aged children in 6 sentinel provinces and to compare these data with baseline findings. A cross-sectional study design was used to determine the prevalence and intensity of STH infections. Parasitological assessment involved the examination of stool samples by the Kato-Katz method. Although parasitological parameters in the 2 age groups at follow-up showed significant reductions from the baseline, these parameters remained high despite 3 years of mass drug administration (MDA). Efforts toward achieving high MDA coverage rates, provision of clean water, environmental sanitation, and promotion of hygiene practices must be prioritized.
    Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health 04/2013; · 1.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: School-aged children in tropical developing countries carry the highest burden of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections in the world. The Western Visayas region of the Philippines continues to struggle with this as a major public health issue in both private and public schools. The War on Worms-Western Visayas approach was launched in 2007 with school-based mass drug administration (MDA) as one of the strategies to control morbidity from STH in support of the Department of Health - Integrated Helminth Control Program. This study aimed to determine trends in prevalence and intensity of STH infections as well as to assess related morbidity and program sustainability through 2011. A cross-sectional parasitologic survey was conducted on three independent samples of Grade 3 students in 2007, 2009, 2011. Supporting aggregate data were obtained for MDA coverage, National Achievement Test mean percentage scores, and nutritional status. Tests for trend were utilized to detect changes in prevalence over time, with a particular emphasis on trends seen between 2009 and 2011. The initial impact of the program was robust as cumulative prevalence, infection intensities, and parasite densities were all reduced four years following the launch. However, subsequent and significant increases in each were found from 2009 until 2011. These results implicate issues with program sustainability, despite consistent MDA, and existing frameworks for environmental sanitation, hygiene, and education.
    Acta tropica 04/2013; · 2.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Child health in many low- and middle-income countries lags behind international goals and affects children's education, well-being, and general development. Large-scale school health programmes can be effective in reducing preventable diseases through cost-effective interventions. This paper outlines the baseline and 1-year results of a longitudinal health study assessing the impact of the Fit for School Programme in the Philippines. METHODS: A longitudinal 4-year cohort study was conducted in the province of Camiguin, Mindanao (experimental group); an external concurrent control group was studied in Gingoog, Mindanao. The study has three experimental groups: group 1---daily handwashing with soap, daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste, biannual deworming with 400 mg albendazole (Essential Health Care Program [EHCP]); group 2---EHCP plus twice-a-year access to school-based Oral Urgent Treatment; group 3---EHCP plus weekly toothbrushing with high-fluoride concentration gel. A non-concurrent internal control group was also included. Baseline data on anthropometric indicators to calculate body mass index (BMI), soil-transmitted helminths (STH) infection in stool samples, and dental caries were collected in August 2009 and August 2010. Data were analysed to assess validity of the control group design, baseline, and 1-year results. RESULTS: In the cohort study, 412 children were examined at baseline and 341 1 year after intervention. The baseline results were in line with national averages for STH infection, BMI, and dental caries in group 1 and the control groups. Children lost to follow-up had similar baseline characteristics in the experimental and control groups. After 1 year, group 1 showed a significantly higher increase in mean BMI and lower prevalence of moderate to heavy STH infection than the external concurrent control group. The increases in caries and dental infections were reduced but not statistically significant. The results for groups 2 and 3 will be reported separately. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the short 1-year observation period, the study found a reduction in the prevalence of moderate to heavy STH infections, a rise in mean BMI, and a (statistically non-significant) reduction in dental caries and infections. The study design proved functional in actual field conditions. Critical aspects affecting the validity of cohort studies are analysed and discussed.Trial registration: DRKS00003431 (WHO Universal Trial Number U1111-1126-0718) https://drks-neu.uniklinik-freiburg.de/drks_web/setLocale_EN.do.
    BMC Public Health 01/2013; 13(1):256. · 2.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We evaluated the War on Worms in the Western Visayas (WOW-V) school-based mass treatment strategy in Capiz, the Philippines by assessing potential determinants of program acceptance among parents, teachers, and local health and education officials involved. Written surveys were distributed to parents and teachers assessing knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections. Associations between data were examined using the Fisher's exact test (alpha = 0.05). Descriptive statistics and t-tests were employed to analyze teacher survey results. Local health and education officials participated in key-informant interviews (KIs) to evaluate their attitudes and practices regarding WOW-V; data was qualitatively analyzed and grouped. A strong association was observed between parental consent during the first two rounds of treatment and willingness to do so again. Most parents gave consent for their child to receive treatment at least once and demonstrated a high level of knowledge regarding STH infections. The majority of teachers had positive attitudes toward their role in the program. Many identified lack of training and a fear of side effects as barriers to higher coverage. Lack of funding, program monitoring difficulties and insufficient parental education were identified by local officials as barriers. Proper planning and design is important to achieve high initial consent for program acceptance. The results correlate with studies showing relationships between health education and treatment acceptance. The implementation of health education and monitoring measures has the potential to greatly improve both treatment coverage and program infrastructure.
    The Southeast Asian journal of tropical medicine and public health 05/2012; 43(3):589-600. · 0.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: School health programmes as a platform to deliver high-impact health interventions are currently underrated by decision makers and do not get adequate attention from the international public health community. We describe the award-winning Fit for School Approach from the Philippines as an example of a large-scale, integrated, cost-effective and evidence-based programme that bridges the gap between sectors, and between evidence and practice. In view of the challenges to achieve the health and education related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in many countries, intensified efforts are required. We present the Fit for School Action Framework as a realistic and tested approach that helps to make schools places of public health for children and wider communities.
    Global Health Action 01/2012; 5. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are now widely used for prompt on-site diagnosis in remote endemic areas where reliable microscopy is absent. Aberrant results, whereby negative test results occur at high parasite densities, have been variously reported for over a decade and have led to questions regarding the reliability of the tests in clinical use. In the first trial, serial dilutions of recombinant HRP2 antigen were tested on an HRP2-detectiing RDT. In a second trial, serial dilutions of culture-derived Plasmodium falciparum parasites were tested against three HRP2-detecting RDTs. A prozone-like effect occurred in RDTs at a high concentration of the target antigen, histidine-rich protein-2 (above 15,000 ng/ml), a level that corresponds to more than 312000 parasites per μL. Similar results were noted on three RDT products using dilutions of cultured parasites up to a parasite density of 25%. While reduced line intensity was observed, no false negative results occurred. These results suggest that false-negative malaria RDT results will rarely occur due to a prozone-like effect in high-density infections, and other causes are more likely. However, RDT line intensity is poorly indicative of parasite density in high-density infections and RDTs should, therefore, not be considered quantitative. Immediate management of suspected severe malaria should rely on clinical assessment or microscopy. Evaluation against high concentrations of antigen should be considered in malaria RDT product development and lot-release testing, to ensure that very weak or false negative results will not occur at antigen concentrations that might be seen clinically.
    Malaria Journal 09/2011; 10:286. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A significant portion of the population in the Philippines consists of indigenous people (IP) groups, approximately 9% or 8.1 million. Data on the health status of these groups are very limited including the status of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections. Provision of such data will be of great importance in the formulation of policy on control and prevention of these diseases in this group. This study was conducted in selected villages/barangays in the municipalities of Carmen, Kapalong, San Isidro and Sto. Tomas in the Province of Davao del Norte in Southern Mindanao, Philippines. Parasitologic assessment was performed using Kato-Katz to qualify and quantify STH infections, while nutritional status assessment was based on hemoglobin determination and on nutritional status indicators, i.e., weight-for-age (WFA), height-for-age (HFA), and body mass index (BMI) for age derived from anthropometric measurements. A total of 572 school children participated in the survey, 264 (46.2%) of whom belonged to a specific IP group. Results showed that 34.1% of the school children had at least one STH infection while 5.9% had heavy intensity infections. Cumulative prevalence in IP school children was significantly higher than in non-IP children with rates at 39.0% and 29.9%, respectively (P = 0.021). Overall prevalence of school children with below normal WFA was 29.9%, while prevalence of those with below normal HFA and BMI for age was 42.8% and 14.9%, respectively. Of those examined, 8.3% had below normal hemoglobin levels. There was no significant difference observed between the nutritional status parameters of IP and non-IP school children. The parasitologic parameters reported in this study signify the need to pay more attention to IP children who are at higher risk of morbidity due to helminth infections. Access of IP communities to quality health services, which include mass drug administration (MDA) and health education on a regular basis, must be ensured. Further studies to determine factors that contribute to the higher prevalence of STH among IP groups are recommended.
    Acta tropica 03/2011; 120 Suppl 1:S12-8. · 2.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To the Editor: Capillariasis is caused by the foodborne nematode Capillaria philippinensis. Infection causes severe diarrhea and protein loss resulting in dehydration, cachexia, and eventually death. Infected patients may also have borborygmi, abdominal pain, weight loss, anorexia, vomiting, and bipedal edema (1).
    Emerging Infectious Diseases 04/2010; 16(4):736-8. · 6.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study describes baseline prevalence and intensity of soil-transmitted helminth infections as well as baseline anthropometric and school performance data among public elementary school children in 6 sentinel provinces in the Philippines. Stratified cluster sampling was used to select 6 provinces, where grade 3 elementary school pupils were surveyed. Secondary anthropometric data and achievement test results of the immediate past academic year were examined. Overall cumulative prevalence and proportion of heavy intensity infections for the 6 selected provinces were 54.0% and 23.1%, respectively. These recent findings further support the need for mass treatment to be given at least twice a year. The findings of the study also demonstrate the relationship that exists between worm burden and nutritional status. Strategies focusing on mass treatment integration, environmental sanitation, personal hygiene, and health education should be developed to control soil-transmitted helminth infections and their detrimental effects.
    Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health 02/2009; 21(1):26-42. · 1.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective. Elimination efforts for lymphatic filariasis are underway in the Philippines using mass drug administration (MDA) of diethylcarbamazine and albendazole as one of the main strategies. This cost analysis was done to determine the MDA implementation cost and provide useful information to the control programme on how to best utilize limited resources. Methods. This cost analysis study was conducted in the province of Sorsogon, Philippines in 2004. The study was done from a program perspective. Cost data for 2003 was obtained retrospectively via key informant interviews and records review using a standardized guide from a multi-country cost analysis study of filariasis elimination programs. Cost figures were classified as either economic or financial costs and expressed in real terms using 2002 as base year. Sensitivity analysis was likewise performed. Results. The total economic cost and cost per person treated with MDA were estimated at US$223,549.55 (Php12,116,385.48) and US$0.40, respectively. The financial costs were less than half of the economic costs. The main cost driver was drug distribution. The highest economic and financial costs were incurred at the national (54.5%) and municipal (74.4%) levels, respectively. High variation in costs of MDA activities was observed. Conclusion. This cost analysis provides reasonable estimates which may be used to assist government and other stakeholders in program planning and resource generation for filariasis elimination programs in endemic areas.
    Acta medica Philippina 01/2009; 43(4):23-28.
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    ABSTRACT: Mass drug administration (MDA) has been one of the strategies endorsed by the World Health Assembly for lymphatic filariasis (LF) elimination. Many factors, however, affect the acceptability of the MDA in the Philippines with acceptability defined as the ingestion of drugs -diethylcarbamazine and albendazole during MDA. These drugs were mainly distributed in fixed sites and mopping up activities were conducted through house-to-house visits to increase treatment coverage. The aim of conducting the study was to determine the MDA acceptance rate among a population endemic for LF, and the factors associated with MDA acceptance. In April 2005, a stratified cluster survey involving 437 respondents aged 18 years old and above in Agusan del Sur, Philippines was conducted. Key informant interviews and focused group discussions were performed among community leaders and health service providers. Descriptive statistics and coverage estimates were calculated with appropriate sampling weights applied to all analyses. Factors assessed for association with receipt of antifilarial drugs and MDA acceptance were respondents' socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and perceptions on LF. Pearson chi-squared test was used to determine factors associated with MDA acceptance. Results showed that 63.3% of the sampled population received the antifilarial drugs; of these, 94.5% ingested the drugs, yielding an acceptance rate of 60%. Half of the sampled population received the drugs from a fixed site, while only 13% was mopped up. A majority of the sampled population were aware of LF and MDA. Knowledge on LF prevention, cause, treatment and diagnosis and adverse events was low to moderate. Knowledge on LF and perceived benefits of antifilarial drugs were found to be associated with MDA acceptance (p = 0.08). Health workers remain the front liners in the MDA implementation. Local government units were aware of LF and MDA, but support was insufficient. The proportion of the sampled population that received and ingested the antifilarial drugs was much lower than the reported coverage. The target coverage rate of 85% may be achieved with sufficient groundwork for MDA, buy-in from the local government, greater efforts exerted to increase the people's knowledge on LF and MDA and their understanding of perceived benefits of the drugs. These would contribute to the successful elimination of LF in the province.
    Parasites & Vectors 02/2008; 1(1):14. · 3.25 Impact Factor
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    Emerging infectious diseases 08/2007; 13(7):1130-1. · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Because lymphatic filariasis (LF) elimination efforts are hampered by a dearth of economic information about the cost of mass drug administration (MDA) programs (using either albendazole with diethylcarbamazine [DEC] or albendazole with ivermectin), a multicenter study was undertaken to determine the costs of MDA programs to interrupt transmission of infection with LF. Such results are particularly important because LF programs have the necessary diagnostic and treatment tools to eliminate the disease as a public health problem globally, and already by 2006, the Global Programme to Eliminate LF had initiated treatment programs covering over 400 million of the 1.3 billion people at risk. To obtain annual costs to carry out the MDA strategy, researchers from seven countries developed and followed a common cost analysis protocol designed to estimate 1) the total annual cost of the LF program, 2) the average cost per person treated, and 3) the relative contributions of the endemic countries and the external partners. Costs per person treated ranged from $0.06 to $2.23. Principal reasons for the variation were 1) the age (newness) of the MDA program, 2) the use of volunteers, and 3) the size of the population treated. Substantial contributions by governments were documented - generally 60%-90% of program operation costs, excluding costs of donated medications. MDA for LF elimination is comparatively inexpensive in relation to most other public health programs. Governments and communities make the predominant financial contributions to actual MDA implementation, not counting the cost of the drugs themselves. The results highlight the impact of the use of volunteers on program costs and provide specific cost data for 7 different countries that can be used as a basis both for modifying current programs and for developing new ones.
    PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 02/2007; 1(1):e67. · 4.57 Impact Factor
  • J. H. Cross, V. Belizario
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    ABSTRACT: There are many newly emerging and reemerging food-borne parasitic diseases that are gaining international significance such as fascioliasis, anisakiasis, gnathostomiasis, trichinellosis, echinostomiasis, cysticercosis, angiostrongyliasis, and capillariasis. Capillaria philippinensis is one of the more recently discovered food-borne zoonotic parasites and has become one of the most biologically interesting, not only because of its high risk of death in infected people, but also because of its unusual life cycle and reproductive behavior.
    12/2006: pages 209-234;

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