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Gastrointestinal parasite infections in Nepalese Gurkha recruits arriving in the United Kingdom from 2012–2020

Nevin, William ORCID:, Jones, Jayne, Tupper, Donna, Dunbar, James A. T., Wilson, Duncan, Ross, David, Woolley, Stephen, Dodd, James, Biswas, Jason, Lamb, Lucy, Beeching, Nicholas ORCID:, O’Shea, Matthew K. and Fletcher, Tom (2024) 'Gastrointestinal parasite infections in Nepalese Gurkha recruits arriving in the United Kingdom from 2012–2020'. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Vol 18, Issue 1, e0011931.

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Gastrointestinal parasite (GIP) infections are a major cause of global morbidity, infecting hundreds of millions of people each year and potentially leading to lifelong infection and serious complications. Few data exist on screening for GIP infections in migrants entering the UK or on the current performance of different traditional diagnostic approaches. This study aimed to describe the prevalence of GIP infections in Nepalese Gurkha recruits screened on arrival in the UK.

Methodology/Principal findings:
We present a retrospective analysis of data from screening male adults (18–21 years) who arrived in the UK from Nepal between 2012 and 2020. Three separate faecal samples were obtained from participants at weekly intervals and processed for formalin-ethyl acetate (FEA) concentration/light microscopy and charcoal culture. Serum samples were analysed for IgG antibodies to Strongyloides stercoralis by ELISA. Results were available from 2,263 participants, of whom 463 (20.5%, 95% CI 18.8%-22.2%) had a positive diagnostic test for at least one GIP infection. A total of 525 potential infections were identified. Giardia duodenalis was most common (231/2263, 10.2%), followed by S. stercoralis (102/2263, 4.5%), and hookworm species (86/2263, 3.8%). Analysis (microscopy and culture) of the initial stool sample diagnosed only 244/427 (57.1%) faecally identified pathogens, including 41/86 (47.7%) hookworm infections. The proportion of participants infected with any GIP showed a downward trend over the study period. Log-binomial regression showed risk of infection decreasing by 6.1% year-on-year (95% CI 3.2% - 9.0%). This was driven predominantly by a fall in hookworm, S. stercoralis and Trichuris trichiura prevalence.

The level of potentially pathogenic GIP infection in young Nepalese men migrating to the UK is high (20.5%) and requires a combined diagnostic approach including serology and analysis of multiple stool samples incorporating specialised parasitological methods. Advances in molecular approaches may optimise and simplify the intensive screening strategy required.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QW Microbiology and Immunology > Immune Responses > QW 700 Infection. Mechanisms of infection and resistance.
WC Communicable Diseases > Tropical and Parasitic Diseases > WC 698 Parasitic intestinal diseases (General)
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Pubrouter
Depositing User: JISC Pubrouter
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2024 10:15
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2024 10:15


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