Abstract

Peri-portal fibrosis can be a serious sequelae of Schistosoma mansoni infection. Age or duration of exposure have been identified as important risk factors, but their relative importance cannot be easily separated. Here, we have compared two cohorts, aged 6–50 years and resident for ten years or since birth, from two neighbouring villages (Booma and Bugoigo) on the eastern shore of Lake Albert, Uganda. Parasitological measurements were similar, whereas the prevalence of peri-portal fibrosis was 5-fold higher in Booma. Data from the cohorts were pooled to assess the relative contribution of age and duration of residency on the risk of disease. Amongst adults, duration of residency was the critical risk factor – individuals aged 17–31 years resident for more 22 years had an almost 12-fold increased risk of fibrosis than those resident for less than 15 years. Height-standardised Splenic Vein Diameter (SVD), Portal Vein Diameter (PVD), Para-sternal Liver Length (PLL)and Spleen Length (SL)values were all higher in Booma, and each organometric parameter except PLL increased with the severity of fibrosis. Our results clearly demonstrate that duration of exposure is a critical risk factor for the development of peri-portal fibrosis and its sequelae in adults. This parameter should therefore be a routine measurement during epidemiological surveys of S. mansoni.

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