Background: In Bulgaria, more than 20 autochthonous human parasitic infections have been described and some of them are widespread. Over 50 imported protozoan and helminthic infections represent diagnostic and therapeutic challenges and pose epidemiological risks due to the possibility of local transmission.
Aims: To establish the distribution of autochthonous and imported parasitic diseases among the population of the country over a 2-year period (2013-2014) and to evaluate their significance in the public health system.
Study design: Cross sectional study.
Methods: We used the annual reports by regional health inspectorates and data from the National Reference Laboratory at the National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases on all individuals infected with parasitic diseases in the country. Prevalence was calculated for parasitic diseases with few or absent clinical manifestations (oligosymptomatic or asymptomatic infections). Incidence per 100.000 was calculated for diseases with an overt clinical picture or those that required hospitalisation and specialised medical interventions (e.g. surgery).
Results: During the research period, parasitological studies were conducted on 1441.244 persons, and parasitic infections were diagnosed in 22.039 individuals. Distribution of various parasitic pathogens among the population displayed statistically significant differences in prevalence for some intestinal parasites (enterobiasis 0.81%, giardiasis 0.34% and blastocystosis 0.22%). For certain zoonotic diseases such as cystic echinococcosis (average incidence of 3.99 per 100.000) and trichinellosis (average incidence of 0.8 per 100.000), the incidence exceeds several times the annual incidence recorded in the European Union.
Conclusion: Parasitic diseases still pose a substantial problem with social and medical impacts on the residents of our country. Improved efficiency regarding autochthonous and imported parasitic diseases is essential in providing the public health system the tools it needs to combat these diseases. Attention should be focused on the various imported vector-borne parasitic diseases (e.g. malaria and cutaneous leishmaniasis) for which the country is potentially endemic.
Keywords: Parasitic disease; incidence; prevalence; transmission Bulgaria..