Comparison of enteric protozoan infections in four Australian hospitals: variable tests and variable results

Cambridge University Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Parasitology Open, 2016, 2, (e13), pp. 1-8
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
There is limited evidence of the prevalence of enteric protozoon infections in developed settings. We estimated the prevalence of enteric protozoa and evaluated the outcome of testing algorithms used in hospital settings in Sydney, Australia. This retrospective study assessed microbiological data from four public clinical laboratories. Pooled data from the four hospitals revealed the most common enteric protozoon detected was Blastocystis spp. in an average of 5·4% of cases, followed by Giardia intestinalis (1·1%) and Dientamoeba fragilis (0·8%). Protozoon detection rates between hospitals were significantly different and could be based on multiple factors. The modified iron haematoxylin staining method, consistently detected higher rates of Blastocystis spp., and G. intestinalis in comparison with microscopy of wet preparations, as well as higher rates of G. intestinalis and Cryptosporidium when compared with enzyme immunoassay. The study concludes that there are multiple factors that contribute to the variability in protozoa detection rates in metropolitan hospitals, including widespread variability in the testing protocols for enteric protozoa, individual and population characteristics. A gold standard approach for diagnosis of enteric protozoa is recommended. Molecular diagnostic methods such as polymerase chain reaction would provide consistency across laboratories and yield more reliable estimates of the actual prevalence of enteric protozoa.
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