Among 5,919 patients with symptoms of suggestive parasite infections, study found that at least 124 people suffer from intestinal parasite infection.

The study conducted by officials of the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) used samples of 5,919 patients between 2013 and 2015. The samples collected were from the patients visiting JDWNRH with the symptoms of suggestive parasite infections.

The study found that the overall prevalence rate was 2.1 percent.

Medical laboratory technician at Yebilaptsa District Hospital, Zhemgang, Karma Norbu, said that the overall prevalence of parasitic infection was alarming and required public health interventions. “Education on health and hygiene is important. Proper sanitation and hygienic life style would be the best solution to reduce the intestinal parasitic infections.”

In the intestinal protozoa group, giardia lamblia was the most prevalent.

Protozoa is an informal term for single-celled eukaryotes, either free-living or parasitic, which feed on organic matter such as other microorganisms or organic tissues and debris.

Giardia lamblia is one of the most common intestinal parasites infections among the patients studied. It is a flagellated parasite that colonises and reproduces in the small intestine, causing giardiasis, an infection in the small intestine.

Giardia lamblia had prevalence rate of 0.93 percent. With 0.03 percent, hookworm prevelance was the lowest. “The reason for higher prevalence of giardia lamblia in the study is not known exactly and further studies are required.”

The study states that giardiasis mainly results from the contamination of water supplies with human waste. “Clean and safe water supply in the municipal area is an important factor. Further investigations and studies are required to look into the association of these infestations and the quality of drinking water.”

Study shows that entamoeba coli was the second most prevalent with 0.20 percent prevalence rate in the protozoa group.

In the helminthes group, ascaris lumbricoides was the most prevalent. The parasite causes restlessness, fever, and diarrhoea.

Taenia spp. is a parasite also known as tapeworm, which cause intestinal infections. This was the second most prevalent parasite among the samples.

Highest rate of intestinal parasitic infections was noted among the patients above the age of 56.

The study shows that the prevalence of intestinal infections was slightly higher in females than males. “The deviation of the parasites towards female may be associated with occupation of individuals with personal hygiene.”

The study found that eight intestinal parasites identified were relatively low compared to elsewhere in the world. This was attributed to extensive deworming programmes in schools.

The study was published in the 4th volume of the Bhutan Health Journal launched in May this year.

Phurpa Lhamo