Epidemiology and geographical distribution of enteric protozoan infections in Sydney, Australia

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Stephanie Fletcher
Graziella Caprarelli
Juan Merif
David Andresen
Sebastian Van Hal
Damien Stark
John Ellis *
(*) Corresponding Author:
John Ellis | John.Ellis@uts.edu.au


Background. Enteric protozoa are associated with diarrhoeal illnesses in humans; however there are no recent studies on their epidemiology and geographical distribution in Australia. This study describes the epidemiology of enteric protozoa in the state of New South Wales and incorporates spatial analysis to describe their distribution.
Design and methods. Laboratory and clinical records from four public hospitals in Sydney for 910 patients, who tested positive for enteric protozoa over the period January 2007-December 2010, were identified, examined and analysed. We selected 580 cases which had residence post code data available, enabling us to examine the geographic distribution of patients, and reviewed the clinical data of 252 patients to examine possible links between protozoa, demographic and clinical features.
Results. Frequently detected protozoa were Blastocystis spp. (57%), Giardia intestinalis (27%) and Dientamoeba fragilis (12%). The age distribution showed that the prevalence of protozoa decreased with age up to 24 years but increasing with age from 25 years onwards. The geographic provenance of the patients indicates that the majority of cases of Blastocystis (53.1%) are clustered in and around the Sydney City Business District, while pockets of giardiasis were identified in regional/rural areas. The distribution of cases suggests higher risk of protozoan infection may exist for some communities.
Conclusions. These findings provide useful information for policy makers to design and tailor interventions to target high risk communities. Follow-up investigation into the risk factors for giardiasis in regional/rural area is needed.

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Author Biography

Sebastian Van Hal, Department of Microbiology, Liverpool Hospital