Concurrent allergy and helminthiasis in underprivileged urban South African adults previously residing in rural areas
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This study investigated whether prior exposure to helminths (Ascaris IgE, Ascaris eggs and Trichuris eggs) either in childhood or in adulthood, and residence in rural and resource-limited urban areas influence allergy outcomes (asthma, rhinitis, IgE atopy and food allergy) in a South African population. Participants historical and present allergies data were collected through questionnaires and clinical record files. Coproscopy and immunoassays (ImmunoCAPTM Phadiatop, total IgE and allergen-specific fx3 IgE immunoassays and Ascaris IgE radioallergosorbent [RAST] tests) were used for active helminthiasis and allergy screens respectively. Data were analysed using logistic regression analysis, and models were adjusted for age, gender and locality. High Ascaris IgE was significantly associated with asthma (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 2.20, p = .047), IgE atopy (aOR = 18.18, p < .0001) and food allergy (aOR = 14.47, p < .0001). Asthma was significantly less likely among participants with Ascaris eggs (aOR = 0.43, p = .048) and Trichuris eggs (aOR = 0.36, p = .024). The findings of co-occurrent helminthiasis and allergic disorders in a population that has resided both in rural and peri-urban informal settlements both oppose and agree with two main notions of the hygiene hypothesis that (i) individuals residing in rural settings with poor sanitation and geohelminth infection are less prone to allergy, and (ii) helminth infections protect against allergy respectively. Further research is warranted.