Are intestinal helminths a risk factor for non-typhoidal Salmonella bacteraemia in adults in Africa who are seropositive for HIV? A case–control study.
In Africa, invasive, non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) infections are a common but life-threatening complication in adults who are seropositive for HIV. The high prevalence of human infection with intestinal helminths which penetrate the gut could explain the greater importance of NTS bacteraemia in Africa compared with that in industrialized countries. If helminth infection is a major risk factor for NTS it would provide a locally relevant, public-health target. A study was conducted at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi in 2 phases: between November 1998 and June 1999, and between May and August 2000. Intestinal helminth carriage in 57 HIV-positive patients with NTS bacteraemia (the cases) was compared with that in 162 HIV-positive controls who were similar to the cases in terms of age, sex, urban dwelling and socioeconomic factors. The prevalence of helminth infection, 29% overall, was lower among the cases (18%) than among the controls (33%), giving a crude odds ratio of 0.40 (with a 95% confidence interval (CI) of 0.21-0.9) and an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 0.79 (CI=0.4-1.8). Five (9%) of the cases and 12 (7%) of the controls were infected with nematodes which penetrate the gut (Ascaris lumbricoides and/or Strongyloides stercoralis). The aOR for infection with these penetrating worms, corrected for age, sex, urban dwelling and phase of study, was 1.40 (CI=0.4-4.5). The present results do not exclude the possibility that helminths play a role in invasive NTS infections, but are not consistent with helminths being a sufficient risk factor in this population to be a public-health target. Anthelmintics are unlikely to have a major impact on preventing NTS bacteraemia in patients diagnosed HIV-positive in Africa.
Annals of Tropical Medicine & Parasitology (2002) vol. 96, no. 2, pp. 203–208 [DOI: 10.1179/000349802125000277]