Results are reported on what is believed to be the first extensive survey of American college students for intestinal protozoa.
Only one stool, obtained without laxatives, was examined for each of 1060 freshmen at a professional institution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the examinations being made from 1931 to 1933.
It was found that 34.5 per cent of these students harbored one or more kinds of protozoa and that 4.1 per cent harbored Endamoeba histolytica. The percentage incidence of E. histolytica was higher (5.2 per cent) for Philadelphia and its suburbs in Pennsylvania than for other parts of that state (3.4 per cent) and for New Jersey (2.0 per cent). Only 1 of 39 carriers of E. histolytica had travelled “south” in the United States but 6 out of 41 carriers had been to Europe. The incidence of E. histolytica in 46 food handlers was 4.3 per cent.
The students harboring E. histolytica appeared to be at least as healthy as those recorded as negative for protozoa and no cases of amoebic dysentery were detected at the institution during the three years of this study.
More positives were detected by the study of permanent slides than by the examination of temporary wet preparations.
The desirability of recognizing carriers of E. histolytica in student groups and in food handlers and of eradicating their infections is suggested.
Grants from the Special Research Fund of the University of Pennsylvania have aided this investigation.