Epidemiology of giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis in Jamaica.

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  • 1 Department of Microbiology, The University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica.

We report the findings of a cross-sectional epidemiologic study of Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidum infections in Jamaica. Three hundred twenty eight stool samples from patients less than one to 81 years of age were examined using formalin-ether concentration for G. lamblia, Zeihl-Neelsen staining for Cryptosporidium, and the Prospect rapid enzyme immunoassay (EIA; Alexon, Sunnyvale, CA) for parasite diagnosis. The Prospect Giardia rapid assay detected 17 cases of G. lamblia infection compared with six by formalin-ether concentration. However, the Prospect Cryptosporidum EIA did not increase the rate of detection of Cryptosporidum when compared with Zeihl-Neelsen staining. Cryptosporidum infections were most frequently diagnosed in children less than five years old and prevalence decreased with age. In contrast, the prevalence of giardiasis increased as children became older. There were no associations between the infections and stool consistency, clinical manifestations, or sex of the individuals. The contribution of the parasites to childhood morbidity will depend on accurate laboratory diagnosis.