Undiagnosed and potentially lethal parasite infections among immigrants and refugees in Australia

Sonia R. Caruana, Heath A. Kelly, Joanne Y.Y. Ngeow, Norbert J. Ryan, Catherine M. Bennett, Ley Chea, Sophy Nuon, Narin Bak, Susan A. Skull, Beverley Ann Biggs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Intestinal parasite infections are a major cause of ill health in many resource-poor countries. This study compares the types and rates of these infections and their risk factors in recently arrived and long-term immigrants in Australia. Method. Cross-sectional surveys of 127 East African and 234 Cambodian immigrants and refugees were undertaken in 2000 and 2002, respectively, to assess the burden of intestinal parasites and collect demographic information. Serum samples were assessed for eosinophilia and Strongyloides stercoralis and Schistosoma antibodies, and feces examined for ova, cysts, and parasites. Results. Intestinal parasites were identified in 77/117 fecal samples from East African and in 25/204 samples collected from Cambodian participants. Eleven percent (14/124) of East Africans and 42% (97/230) of Cambodians had positive or equivocal serology for S stercoralis. Schistosoma serology was positive or equivocal in 15% (19/124) of East African participants. Conclusion. Potentially serious intestinal parasite infections are common among recent and longer term immigrants despite multiple visits to health care providers. Immigrants and refugees from high-risk countries would benefit from comprehensive health checks soon after resettlement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-239
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Travel Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


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