Immigrants from undeveloped countries are a growing problem in Europe. Spain has become a frequent destination for immigrants (20% of whom are children) because of its geographic location and its historic and cultural links with Africa and Latin America. Eosinophilia is frequent in adult immigrants, travelers and expatriates coming from tropical areas. However, there are few studies that focus on the incidence and causes of tropical eosinophilia and hyper-IgE in immigrant children.
We evaluated, prospectively, the prevalence and causes of eosinophilia and hyper-immunoglobulin E (IgE) in 362 immigrant children coming from Sub-Saharan Africa, Northern Africa and Latin America to Salamanca, Spain, between January 2007 and December 2011.
Absolute eosinophilia and hyper-IgE were present in 22.9% and 56.8% of the analyzed children, respectively. The most frequent causes of absolute eosinophilia were filariasis (52.6%), strongyloidiasis (46.8%) and schistosomiasis (28.9%). Filariasis (41.9%), strongyloidiasis (29.6%) and schistosomiasis (22.2%) were the most frequent causes of increased levels of IgE. The area under the ROC curve showed similar values between eosinophil count and IgE levels in the diagnosis of helminthiasis (69% [95% confidence interval (CI) 63%–74%] vs 67% [95% CI 60%–72%], P = 0.24).
Eosinophilia and hyper-IgE have a high value as biomarkers of helminthiasis in children coming from tropical and subtropical areas.