Environmental parameters influencing the distribution of parasite species in three neighbourhoods of differing socioeconomic conditions in La Plata, Argentina were analysed. Coproparasitological screenings were performed in children up to 14 years old from a marginal zone (100), a suburban neighbourhood (101), and an urban area (91) in 1999--2000. The presence of parasite species in environmental samples (water and soil) and the degree of association among parasite communities was documented and evaluated. The prevalence of infection in each population was 73.0%, 54.4% and 35.2%, respectively. The frequencies of helminths and pathogenic protozoa were both higher in the marginal zone, where sanitary and environmental conditions were significantly inferior compared with the other zones. The high prevalence of intestinal parasites in this infantile population was related to parasitic contamination of the soil and water sources in addition to deficient sanitary and sociocultural conditions. Calculation of an equitability index revealed that the specific richness was less equitable once socioeconomic conditions and hygienic practices were improved. This study demonstrates the need to implement management practices for the control of intestinal parasitoses in accordance with the environmental and sociocultural characteristics of a given ecosystem.
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