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Parasite. 2019;26:42. doi: 10.1051/parasite/2019043. Epub 2019 Jul 16.

Retrospective analysis of hospital discharge records for cases of trichinellosis does not allow evaluation of disease burden in Italy.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.
Department of Translational Research, N.T.M.S. Università di Pisa, via Roma 55, 56126 Pisa, Italy.


Human trichinellosis is a disease caused by nematode worms of the genus Trichinella. In Italy, as well as in most other European countries, notification of Trichinella infections in humans is mandatory; however, no information is available on the number of cases occurring annually. The aim of the present study was to retrospectively evaluate the burden of trichinellosis in Italy from 2005 to 2016. Hospital discharge records (HDRs) showing the code for trichinellosis (124) were registered and screened. Results were then compared with yearly reports issued by the Italian National Reference Laboratory for Trichinella (NRLT), with reports from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and with literature data. A total of 102 HDRs revealed that the 124 code was erroneously reported in 72 (70.6%) records. Out of the 30 (29.4%) records with a correct diagnosis of trichinellosis, nine cases were reported by HDRs only, 21 cases were documented by both HDRs and the NRLT, whereas the NRLT documented 100 additional cases. In the studied period, the average yearly incidence was 0.01 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. This study highlights the limitations of using HDRs to obtain a clear picture of the prevalence and incidence of trichinellosis in Italy. These findings demonstrate the need to intensify the surveillance system for trichinellosis through the development of an Italian registry. This would allow the identification of patients with severe infections and pauci-symptomatic patients, and would avoid the need for clinical analyses and unnecessary treatments, reducing the resulting economic burden on the Italian National Health Service.

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