Coproscopy and molecular screening for detection of intestinal protozoa
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Intestinal parasitosis is one of several health concerns about immigrants who travel from endemic to non-endemic regions. Reliable rapid sensitive diagnostic tools, for use in non-endemic regions, are urgently required to enable frequent assessment of immigrant workers in jobs where risk of local transmission is a particular concern (e.g. food-handlers). We assessed the burden of intestinal protozoa in newly arrived immigrants and those applying for renewal of work permits in Qatar (n = 735), by both microscopic examination of stool samples and by Real Time PCR methodology. Prevalence was considerably higher using RT-PCR compared with coproscopy (Blastocystis hominis: 65.2 vs 7.6%; Giardia duodenalis: 14.3 vs 2.9%; Entamoeba histolytica: 1.6 vs 1.2%). Dientamoeba fragilis was sought only by RT-PCR (prevalence of 25.4%). Prevalence of G. duodenalis was significantly higher in male subjects, associated with blue collar workers and declined over time. Prevalence of B. hominis varied significantly with region of origin of subjects with highest values recorded among African immigrants. Prevalence of D. fragilis also varied with region of origin of subjects, and was lower in young female subjects and in renewal applicants compared with first-time applicants for work permits. We strongly recommend that, henceforth, intestinal protozoa should be screened by RT-PCR, with a particular focus on frequent assessment of immigrant food-handlers.