Objective. A higher incidence of infectious disease has been documented in U.S. regions bordering Mexico compared with non-border areas. We assessed the prevalence of important gastrointestinal infections in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, the largest binational community along the U.S.-Mexico border. Methods. Fecal specimens from a sample of the asymptomatic population representing all ages were tested for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), Cryptosporidium spp., Giardia spp., and other intestinal parasitic pathogens using flotation, immunoassays, and/or polymerase chain reaction. We also measured indicators of microbiological contamination of drinking water, hands of food preparers, and kitchen surfaces. Results. Overall, of the 386 participants, H. pylori was present in 38.2%, Taenia spp. in 3.3%, Giardia spp. in 2.7%, Cryptosporidium spp. in 1.9%, Entamoeba dispar in 1.3%, and Ascaris lumbricoides and Necator americanus in 0.3% of the study subjects; Cyclospora spp. and Entamoeba histolytica were not found. H. pylori infection was associated with handwashing (prevalence ratio [PR] 5 1.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.0, 1.8). Taenia spp. was found more often on the U.S. side (PR58.6, 95% CI 2.3, 30.8). We did not find an association between these infections and the occurrence of total coliforms or fecal coliforms on kitchen surfaces. In addition, Escherichia coli was not found in any drinking water sample. Conclusion. The study results indicated that H. pylori and Taenia spp. infections may be highly prevalent along the U.S.-Mexico border. Additional research is necessary to adequately characterize the prevalence, as well as determine whether interventions that reduce these infections are warranted.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health