Prevalence of parasites in Canada and Alaska

Epidemiology past and present

Theresa W. Gyorkos, J. Dick MacLean, Bouchra Serhir, and Brian Ward

The nature and distribution of parasite infections and diseases in Canada and Alaska are as diverse and widespread as their human host populations. Toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, and diphyllobothriasis, for example are more commonly found in Northern Inuit communities than in the multi-ethnic communities of the southern regions. Intestinal protozoal infections such as Giardia are cosmopolitan while trematode infections such as Metorchis are extremely focal. Travellers and immigrants who have acquired parasite infections abroad receive expert medical attention available in centres specializing in tropical medicine. Imported parasite infections which are transmitted via the oral-faecal route are usually self-limited or fail to survive locally because of the environmental and/or sanitary conditions. Because of increased travel and trade, change in dietary habits, and frequency of immunocompromising diseases, newly emergent parasite diseases (e.g. toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidiasis, cyclosporiasis) have become important medical challenges despite the relatively inhospitable northern climate.

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