A High Burden of Asymptomatic Gastrointestinal Infections in Traditional Communities in Papua New Guinea

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2017 Dec;97(6):1872-1875. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.17-0282. Epub 2017 Sep 21.


Stool samples were collected from 148 healthy adults living a traditional subsistence lifestyle in Papua New Guinea and screened for enteric pathogens using real-time RT-PCR/PCR assays. Enteric pathogens were detected in a high proportion (41%) of individuals. Clear differences were observed in the detection of pathogens between highland and lowland communities. In particular, there was a marked difference in detection rates of norovirus GII (20% and 0%, respectively) and Shigella sp. (15% and 0%, respectively). Analysis of the relationship between enteric pathogen carriage and microbial community composition of participants, using box plots to compare specific normal flora population numbers, did not suggest that gut microbial composition was directly associated with pathogen carriage. This study suggests that enteric pathogens are common in healthy individuals in Papua New Guinean highland communities, presumably acting as a reservoir of infection and thus contributing to a high burden of gastrointestinal illnesses.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asymptomatic Infections / epidemiology*
  • Campylobacter / isolation & purification
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology*
  • Diarrhea / microbiology
  • Diarrhea / virology
  • Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Feces / virology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / virology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Helicobacter pylori / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Norovirus / isolation & purification
  • Papua New Guinea / epidemiology
  • Shigella / isolation & purification