Objectives: To assess whether the clinical and laboratory methods for diagnosing Strongyloides stercoralis infection in non-endemic countries is different between those who are chronically exposed and those who travel.
Methods: Analysis of laboratory and clinical data from 204 patients having S. stercoralis infection at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London.
Results: Sixty-four travellers and 128 immigrants from endemic countries had laboratory-proven strongyloides. In those with microscopically proven disease, serology was 73% sensitive in travellers and 98% sensitive in immigrants (P < 0.001). There was no difference in the eosinophil count between the two groups with 19% having a normal count. Patterns of symptoms varied between the groups, and around one-third were asymptomatic in both groups. Serology was of limited use in follow-up.
Conclusions: Eosinophil count and stool microscopy are insufficiently sensitive to be used alone for screening strongyloides. The sensitivity of serology is good in immigrants with chronic infection, but lower in travellers.