Abstract

Pneumocystis pneumonia is rarely identified in the many immunosuppressed individuals with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and malnutrition in Africa. To test whether infection with Pneumocystis carinii occurs in the continent we conducted a comparative serological study, measuring by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay antibodies to the parasite in 150 healthy young individuals from both Britain and the Gambian savanna. The prevalence of significant titres of antibody to P. carinii steadily increased with age and included more than 70% of both populations by 8 years of age. Infection with P. carinii is, therefore, common in the Gambia. Thus opportunistic pneumocystis pneumonia may be an important but largely unrecognized disease in the continent, though its impact is probably diminished by the prevalence of fatal tuberculous infection, particularly in the AIDS population.

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