Morbidity associated with Schistosoma mekongi and concurrent helminth infection in Lao People's Democratic Republic

Acta Trop. 2020 Apr:204:105324. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2019.105324. Epub 2019 Dec 28.


In 2006, some 7 years after the halt of a multi-year schistosomiasis control programme, a study was conducted in the southern part of Lao People's Democratic Republic to determine the morbidity associated with Schistosoma mekongi and concurrent helminth infection. In two S. mekongi-endemic districts, Khong and Mounlapamok, 640 individuals aged 9-40 years were randomly selected. Two stool samples were obtained from each participant and subjected to the Kato-Katz technique for helminth diagnosis. Morbidity was assessed by clinical examination and abdominal ultrasonography. Multiple logistic regression analysis was employed to relate S. mekongi infection with morbidity indicators. In Khong district, S. mekongi prevalence was 13-fold higher than in Mounlapamok district (57.7% vs. 4.4%, p < 0.001). Likewise, we observed significantly more often palpated hepatomegaly (15.5% vs. 5.4%) and splenomegaly (9.6% vs. 0.4%). Abdominal ultrasonography revealed that, in Khong district, liver and spleen morbidity occurred more frequently (e.g., enlarged left liver lobe: 89.2% vs. 68.7%, p < 0.001). Single species infection with S. mekongi was associated with enlarged peri-portal vein (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 47.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) 4.2-85.7, p = 0.002), as was S. mekongi-Opisthorchis viverrini co-infection (aOR 2.2, 95% CI 1.1-4.5, p = 0.020). In conclusion, our study shows that in 2006, several years after the halt of the Lao schistosomiasis control programme that emphasised preventive chemotherapy, S. mekongi infection again had reached high prevalence rates. Infection with S. mekongi was associated with substantial hepatosplenic morbidity. Schistosomiasis control measures were re-instigated in 2010. In view of the ultimate goal to eliminate schistosomiasis, rigorous surveillance and public health responses tailored to the social-ecological settings and long-term programme commitment are warranted.

Keywords: Control; Helminths; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Morbidity; Opisthorchis viverrini; Schistosoma mekongi.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Coinfection / epidemiology*
  • Coinfection / parasitology*
  • Female
  • Helminthiasis / complications*
  • Helminthiasis / epidemiology
  • Helminthiasis / parasitology
  • Helminths / classification*
  • Helminths / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Laos / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult