Background: In United Arab Emirates (UAE) having four and a half million population, Sharjah boasts the third most populated emirate having 600,000 people [
]. Approximately 80% of the population is expatriates coming from countries where parasitic infections are endemic. Many of them find suitable jobs in various food manufacturing industries, hotels, restaurants and fast food outlets. They also work as food handlers, housemaids and baby sitters. Thus, possible transmission can occur between the immigrants workforce and native emarati population in the community. The present study investigates the prevalence of the intestinal parasitic infections in Ministry of Health hospitals in Sharjah emirate of United Arab Emirates.
Methods: Retrospective laboratory data analysis of ten thousand five hundred fourteen fecal specimens in five different Ministry of Health hospitals within the emirate of Sharjah, was carried out between January 2007 and December 2008. The stool specimens were examined using different microbiological analysis including direct and stool concentration techniques.
Results: During the study period, eight hundred fourteen stool specimens were found to be positive for intestinal parasites. Of this 814 positive specimens, five hundred ninety three (73%) were from local emarati people and rest 27% belongs to the expatriates. There was a higher rate of protozoal infections (92.2%) than the helminths infection (7.8%). Entamoeba histolytica (71.8%) and Giardia lamblia (17.5%) were the commonest intestinal parasites identified. Among the helminths, Ancylostoma dudenale and Ascaris lumbricoides were the common ones. The rate of protozoa infection in native emarati population was 71% (577). On the other hand, the helminth's infestations were more common among the expatriates (6%).
Conclusion: Possibly the most surprising and unanticipated finding was the far greater prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections among the native emarati population (73%) compared with the expatriates (27%), and this may be attributable to better health seeking attitude and more accessibility of native emarati people to government hospitals then the expatriates. The high prevalence rate among the local people indicates that there is a high transmission rate in the community. The existing screening methods especially for food handlers and housemaids need to be improved and strengthened.