Open Access Research article

Intestinal parasitoses in a tertiary-care hospital located in a non-endemic setting during 2006–2010

Adriana Calderaro*, Sara Montecchini, Sabina Rossi, Chiara Gorrini, Flora De Conto, Maria Cristina Medici, Carlo Chezzi and Maria Cristina Arcangeletti

Author Affiliations

Unit of Microbiology and Virology, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Parma, Viale A. Gramsci 14, 43126 Parma, Italy

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:264  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-264

Published: 16 May 2014



The aim of this study was to assess the epidemiology of intestinal parasitoses during a 5-year period in patients attending a tertiary-care hospital in a non-endemic setting.


In the period 2006–2010, 15,752 samples from 8,886 patients with clinically suspected parasitosis were subjected to macroscopic and microscopic examination, to parasitic antigen detection assays, and to cultures for protozoa and nematodes. Real-time PCR assays for the differentiation of Entamoeba histolytica and E. dispar and for the detection of Dientamoeba fragilis were also used.

A statistical analysis evaluating the demographic data of the patients with intestinal parasitic infections was performed.


Intestinal parasitic infections were diagnosed in 1,477 patients (16.6% prevalence), mainly adults and immigrants from endemic areas for faecal-oral infections; protozoa were detected in 93.4% and helminths in 6.6% of the cases, the latter especially in immigrants. Blastocystis hominis was the most common intestinal protozoan, and G. intestinalis was the most frequently detected among pathogenic protozoa, prevalent in immigrants, males, and pediatric patients. Both single (77.9%) and mixed (22.1%) parasitic infections were observed, the latter prevalent in immigrants.


Despite the importance of the knowledge about the epidemiology of intestinal parasitoses in order to adopt appropriate control measures and adequate patient care all over the world, data regarding industrialized countries are rarely reported in the literature. The data presented in this study indicate that intestinal parasitic infections are frequently diagnosed in our laboratory and could make a contribution to stimulate the attention by physicians working in non-endemic areas on the importance of suspecting intestinal parasitoses.

Intestinal parasitosis; Protozoa; Helminths; Epidemiology; Diagnosis; Italy