Carriage of Blastocystis spp. in travellers - A prospective longitudinal study

Jarne M. van Hattem*, Maris S. Arcilla, Constance Schultsz, Martin C. Bootsma, Nienke Verhaar, Sjoerd P. Rebers, Abraham Goorhuis, Martin P. Grobusch, John Penders, Menno D. de Jong, Tom van Gool, Aldert Bart, Perry J. van Genderen, Damian C. Melles, Nicky Molhoek, Astrid M. Oude Lashof, Ellen E. Stobberingh, Henri A. Verbrugh, COMBAT Consortium

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: A lack of prospective and longitudinal data on pre- and post-travel carriage of Blastocystis spp. complicates interpretation of a positive WA post-travel. Therefore we studied dynamics of Blastocystis carriage in a cohort of Dutch travellers.

Methods: From the prospective, multicentre COMBAT study among 2001 Dutch travellers, a subset of 491 travellers was selected based on travel destination to 7 subregions (70 or 71 travellers each). Faecal samples taken directly before and after travel were screened for Blastocystis with qPCR, followed, when positive, by sequence analysis to determine subtypes.

Results: After exclusion of 12 samples with missing samples or inhibited qPCR-reactions, stool samples of 479 travellers were analysed. Before travel, 174 of them (36.3%) carried Blastocystis and in most of these, the same subtype was persistently carried. However, in 48/174 of those travellers (27.6%; CI95 20.8-36.6%) no Blastocystis or a different subtype was detected in the post-travel sample, indicating loss of Blastocystis during travel. Only 26 (5.4%; CI95 3.7%-8.0%) of all travellers acquired Blastocystis, including two individuals that were already positive for Blastocystis before travel but acquired a different subtype during travel.

Discussion: This study shows that Blastocystis carriage in travellers is highly dynamic. The observed acquisition and loss of Blastocystis could either be travel-related or reflect the natural course of Blastocystis carriage. We demonstrate that the majority of Blastocystis detected in post-travel samples were already carried before travel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-91
Number of pages5
JournalTravel Medicine and Infectious Disease
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Blastocystis
  • Carriage
  • Travel
  • Acquisition
  • Loss
  • Dynamics


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