Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Haiti Adoptive Families - Medical Information

Notice about a potential health issue for kids adopted from Haiti and how to test for it:

The director of an International Adoption Center at a children’s hospital has begun testing all of her patients from Haiti for 2 blood-born parasites and based on country –specific research, recommends all children adopted from Haiti be tested for these parasites.

At least one of the parasites, filaria-which infests the lymphatic system, doesn’t usually show symptoms until later in life, when it is much more dangerous to treat. The eventual problems include elephantitis, in which the parasite has blocked the lymphatic system from flowing and can cause the extreme enlargement of extremities caused by the build up of lymph fluids. (This is a layman explanation culled from discussion and CDC info given to the mother of one such infected but asymptomatic child).

The testing should begin with a Complete Blood Count with differential to look for eosinophils (these are a type of white blood cells which can indicate a parasitic infection)

The two parasites to test for are:

** Strongyloides
** Filarial

The CDC does testing for this, but when the doctor asked them about testing for ALL children from Haiti, they recommended the following clinics, which also perform this testing:

(in the US)
**Specialty Lab

Our doctor could not verify how accurate any of these labs are, so she still recommended that your doctor try to go through the CDC, if possible.

Treatment for filariasis is medication controlled and distributed by the CDC. The patient must be enrolled in a “research program” to track the effectiveness of the medication by the CDC. In the case reported to me, the local International Adoption Center/Children’s Hospital is taking care of the research information.

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