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BMC Infect Dis. 2005 Sep 16;5:72.

Population-based laboratory surveillance for Giardia sp. and Cryptosporidium sp. infections in a large Canadian health region.

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  • 1Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.



Giardia lamblia (intestinalis) and Cryptosporidium parvum are the two most important intestinal parasites infecting North Americans but there is a paucity of active population-based surveillance data from Canada. This study determined the incidence of and demographic risk factors for developing Giardia sp. and Cryptosporidium sp. infections in a general Canadian population.


Population-based laboratory surveillance was conducted among all residents of the Calgary Health Region (CHR; population approximately = 1 million) during May 1, 1999 and April 30, 2002.


Giardia sp. infection occurred at a rate of 19.6 per 100,000 populations per year. Although the yearly incidence was stable, a significant seasonal variation was observed with a peak in late summer to early fall. Males were at higher risk for development of this infection as compared to females (21.2 vs. 17.9 per 100,000/yr; relative risk (RR) 1.19; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.00-1.40, p = 0.047), and there was a significant decrease in risk associated with an increasing age. Cryptosporidium sp. infection occurred at an overall rate of 6.0 per 100,000 populations per year although a large outbreak of Cryptosporidium sp. infections occurred in the second half of the summer of 2001. During August and September of 2001, the incidence of cryptosporidiosis was 55.1 per 100,000 per year as compared to 3.1 per 100,000 per year for the remainder of the surveillance period (p < 0.0001). Cryptosporidiosis was largely a disease of children with an incidence of 17.8 per 100,000 per year occurring among those aged < 20 years of age compared to 1.25 per 100,000 per year for adults > or = 20 years of age (RR 14.19; 95% CI, 9.77-21.11; p < 0.0001).


This study provides important information on the occurrence and demographic risk groups for acquisition of giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis in a non-selected Canadian population.

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