South African Journal of Science
Print version ISSN 0038-2353
AMINUAND, M. and YAKUBU, Y.E.. Prevalence of asymptomatic intestinal coccidian parasite infections among non-diarrhoeic HIV-positive children in Zaria, Nigeria. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2008, vol.104, n.9-10, pp. 348-350. ISSN 0038-2353.
Opportunistic coccidian parasites, amongst other infections, frequently complicate human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection by causing chronic diarrhoea. The magnitude of these parasitic infections in HIV-positive patients requires careful attention in developing countries. There have been inadequate studies addressing this problem in Nigeria. The investigation reported here was conducted at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria, with the objective of determining the prevalence of these parasitic infections among HIV-positive children. Eighty-eight stool samples were collected during the wet humid months of July and August 2006 from 60 non-diarrhoeic, HIV-positive and 28 HIV-negative children less than 10 years old. The samples were examined for intestinal coccidian parasites by microscopy and modified Kinyoun's acid fast staining methods. Coccidian parasites, Cyclospora cayetanensis, Cryptosporidium parvum and Isospora belli, were identified in 51% (45/88) of all the stool samples examined. The parasite oocysts were identified in 68% (41/60) of the HIV-positive patients presenting at the hospital and in 14% (4/28) of the controls (P < 0.01). The HIV patients were found to be thirteen times more likely to have been infected with coccidian parasites than the control children (odds ratio = 13.0, 95% CI = 3.9-42.6). Cyclospora cayetanensis was the most prevalent parasite identified in the study (36%). Dual infections caused by C. cayetanensis and C. parvum were found in 17% of HIV-positive patients. Female children were found to have more (53%: 25/47) coccidian oocysts in their stools than the boys (49%: 20/41) (P > 0.05). We found an increase in parasite prevalence with age of the patient. This study indicates that coccidian parasites may be important opportunistic infection agents in non-diarrhoeic HIV-infected children. The prevalence of these parasites and their potential for compounding the health problems of HIV-infected patients suggest that the diagnosis and treatment of coccidian parasites should be a part of routine HIV care.