Decreasing prevalence of Trichuris trichiura (whipworm) in the Northern Territory from 2002 to 2012

Med J Aust. 2014 Mar 17;200(5):286-9. doi: 10.5694/mja13.00141.

Abstract

Objective: To observe the prevalence, disease associations, and temporal trends in Trichuris trichiura (whipworm) infection in the Northern Territory between 2002 and 2012.

Design, participants and setting: Retrospective observational analysis of consecutive microbiologically confirmed cases of T. trichiura infection among members of the NT population from whom a faecal sample was obtained for testing by NT Government health care facilities between 1 January 2002 and 31 December 2012.

Main outcome measures: Annual prevalence of T. trichiura infection; age, sex, Indigenous status and place of residence of infected patients; percentage of infected patients with anaemia (haemoglobin level, ≤ 110 g/L) and eosinophilia (eosinophil count, ≥ 0.5 × 10(9)/L).

Results: 417 episodes of T. trichiura infection were identified over the 11 years from 63 668 faecal samples. The median age of patients was 8 years (interquartile range [IQR], 3-36 years). Patients were predominantly Indigenous (95.3%; P = 0.001) and from three main geographical areas (Victoria Daly, East Arnhem Land and West Arnhem Land). Infections were associated with anaemia (40.2%) and eosinophilia (51.6%). There was a downward trend in the prevalence of T. trichiura infection diagnosed at NT Government health care facilities, from 123.1 cases (95% CI, 94.8-151.3 cases) per 100,000 Indigenous population in 2002 to 35.8 cases (95% CI, 21.8-49.9 cases) per 100,000 Indigenous population in 2011.

Conclusions: T. trichiura is the most frequently identified soil-transmitted helminth infecting patients in NT Government health care facilities. Cases are identified predominantly in Indigenous patients in remote communities. We have observed a declining prevalence of whipworm infection in the NT.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / statistics & numerical data
  • Northern Territory / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Factors
  • Trichuriasis / epidemiology*
  • Trichuris*
  • Young Adult