Parasitic infections are likely under-recognized among immigrant populations in the USA. We conducted a cross-sectional study to evaluate if such infections have health impacts among recent immigrants in Chicago and to identify predictive factors for parasitic infections. A total of 133 recent immigrants were enrolled, filling out a standardized medical questionnaire and providing blood and stool samples. Appriximately 12% of subjects (15/125) who provided a blood or stool sample for testing were found to have evidence of current or prior infection with a pathogenic parasite, of which Toxocara spp. (8 subjects, 6.4%) and Strongyloides stercoralis (5 subjects, 4%) were most commonly identified. Parasitic infection was more likely among subjects who had immigrated within the previous 2 years and those with a self-reported history of worms in the stool. The most useful surrogate markers identified for parasitic infections were an elevated immunoglobulin E level (seen in 46.7% (7/15) of subjects with parasitic infections and 20% (22/110) of uninfected individuals, p = 0.04) and the presence of Blastocystis hominis cysts on Ova & Parasite exam (detected in 38.5% (5/13) of subjects with parasitic infections who provided a stool sample and 5.1% (5/98) of uninfected subjects, p = 0.002). Our study found that parasitic infections may be common in recent US immigrants, which highlights an important health disparity among a vulnerable population that merits further study. Additionally, clinical risk factors, symptoms, and laboratory findings traditionally thought to be associated with parasites were commonly found but not predictive of infection in this study population.
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Herrick, Jesica A.; Nordstrom, Monica; Maloney, Patrick M.; Rodriguez, Miguel; Naceanceno, Kevin; Gallo, Gloria; Mejia, Rojelio; and Hershow, Ron, "Parasitic Infections Represent a Significant Health Threat Among Recent Immigrants in Chicago" (2020). Journal Articles: Epidemiology. 112.