A cross-sectional study was carried out to determine the prevalence and diagnostic performance of microscopy and real time PCR (RT-PCR) for 14 intestinal parasites in a Venezuelan rural community with a long history of persistent intestinal parasitic infections despite the implementation of regular anthelminthic treatments. A total of 228 participants were included in this study. A multiplex RT-PCR was used for the detection of Dientamoeba fragilis, Giardia intestinalis, Cryptosporidium sp. and a monoplex RT-PCR for Entamoeba histolytica. Furthermore, a multiplex PCR was performed for detection of Ascaris lumbricoides, Strongyloides stercoralis, Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale. Combined microscopy-PCR revealed prevalences of 49.3% for A. lumbricoides, 10.1% for N. americanus (no A. duodenale was detected), 2.0% for S. stercoralis, 40.4% for D. fragilis, 35.1% for G. intestinalis, and 7.9% for E. histolytica/dispar. Significant increases in prevalence at PCR vs. microscopy were found for A. lumbricoides, G. intestinalis and D. fragilis. Other parasites detected by microscopy alone were Trichuris trichiura (25.7%), Enterobius vermicularis (3.4%), Blastocystis sp. (65.8%), and the non-pathogenic Entamoeba coli (28.9%), Entamoeba hartmanni (12.3%), Endolimax nana (19.7%) and Iodamoeba bütschlii (7.5%). Age- but no gender-related differences in prevalences were found for A. lumbricoides, T. trichiura, G. intestinalis, and E. histolytica/dispar. The persistently high prevalences of intestinal helminths are probably related to the high faecal pollution as also evidenced by the high prevalences of non-pathogenic intestinal protozoans. These results highlight the importance of using sensitive diagnostic techniques in combination with microscopy to better estimate the prevalence of intestinal parasites, especially in the case of D. fragilis trophozoites, which deteriorate very rapidly and would be missed by microscopy. In addition, the differentiation between the pathogenic E. histolytica and the non-pathogenic E. dispar can be attained. However, microscopy remains an important diagnostic tool since it can detect other intestinal parasites for which no PCR is available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-70
Number of pages7
JournalActa Tropica
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Animals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feces
  • Female
  • Helminths
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic
  • Male
  • Microscopy
  • Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Parasites
  • Prevalence
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rural Population
  • Venezuela
  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'Diagnosis of intestinal parasites in a rural community of Venezuela: Advantages and disadvantages of using microscopy or RT-PCR'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this