Objectives: The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of pathogenic intestinal parasitic infection in primary refugees to Minnesota (MN). Secondary objectives were to determine the association of intestinal parasitic infection with gender, age and continent of origin.
Methods: A retrospective study was conducted on the first refugee screening visits done between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 2001 on data from the Minnesota Department of Health.
Results: Of the 10,358 refugees with screening results, 1969 (19%) had pathogenic intestinal parasites. Parasites were more common in men (OR=1.3; p<0.0001) and were less prevalent with increasing 10 year age intervals (OR=0.79; p<0.001). Asians had the highest proportion of refugees with intestinal parasitic infection (33.6%; p<0.0001). The most common pathogenic intestinal parasites were Trichuris trichiura (7.1%), Giardia lamblia (5.7%), Ascaris lumbricoides (2.1%), and hookworm (2.0%).
Conclusion: In this study almost 20% of newly arrived refugees to the state of MN had evidence of intestinal parasitic infection. With very little organized access to health care following arrival of refugees to a new country, risk of transmission of infection, and persistence of infection, the first health visit should be used as a critical opportunity for the screening and treatment of high-risk patients. Future public health work should focus on enhanced screening and surveillance strategies, follow-up for ensuring adequate treatment completion and eradication of parasitosis, as well as research on cost effectiveness of screening versus predeparture anti-helminthic treatment.