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- The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Epidemiology and Prevalence of Blastocystis spp. in North Cyprus
This study was conducted to investigate the prevalence of Blastocystis spp. and its subtypes (STs) in North Cyprus; and to evaluate the presence of this parasite and its STs with respect to demographic, socioeconomic, and epidemiological factors, as well as gastrointestinal symptoms. Stool samples were collected from 230 volunteers. Each participant also filled out a questionnaire. The samples were examined microscopically by native‐Lugol and trichrome methods and further tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing. Prevalence of Blastocystis spp. infection was found to be 10.5%, 10.5%, and 27.8%, by direct microscopy, trichrome method, and PCR, respectively. No other parasites were detected in the specimens except Giardia spp. (n = 2; 0.8%) and Entamoeba coli (n = 1; 0.4%). The most common Blastocystis STs were ST3 (20; 31.2%), ST2 (18; 28.2%), ST1 (8; 12.5%), and ST4 (7; 11%); whereas other STs were identified as ST6 (3; 4.7%), ST7 (2; 3.2%), and non‐ST (6; 9.4%). Presence of Blastocystis spp. and its STs was not significantly related to any of the demographic, socioeconomic, and epidemiological factors. Furthermore, no significant association of Blastocystis spp. and its STs with gastrointestinal symptoms was found. This study is the first investigation of the epidemiology of Blastocystis spp. in North Cyprus. Distribution of Blastocystis spp. and its STs among demographic, socioeconomic, and epidemiological factors showed complete homogeneity. Presence of the parasite and its STs was not significantly related with the gastrointestinal symptoms among symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. These findings suggest that Blastocystis spp. may be part of the intestinal flora in humans.