Background: Due to poor sanitation and lack of infrastructure in rural Guatemala, diarrheal disease is prevalent. The goal of this paper is to investigate the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in children in the Palajunoj Valley and to conduct a case study in Candelaria – a rural Guatemalan community in the Palajunoj Valley – regarding the current state of their water system and household water practices.
Methods: The Primeros Pasos Clinic, a primary care medical and dental clinic in the Palajunoj Valley, collected over 1,000 fecal samples in 2015 from children in the Palajunoj Valley and tested them for parasites presence. Interviews and water tests were conducted in January 2019 in Candelaria with community leaders and women in the community. Data was analyzed in February 2019.
Results: 60.11% of children in the Palajunoj Valley and 50.47% of children in Candelaria presented with at least one type of gastrointestinal parasite. 37 out of 95 houses in Candelaria do not have access to tap water. Unfiltered tap water was highly contaminated with hydrogen peroxide producing bacteria. Boiled water and filtered water presented lower levels of contamination.
Conclusions The high level of parasite prevalence is at least partially due to lack of access to clean water. The three major issues in Candelaria are lack of infrastructure, financial barriers, and lack of sufficient education.
Parasite, Guatemala, Rural, Diarrhea