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The incidence of giardiasis in Central Lancashire increased following the introduction of a sensitive enzyme immunoassay diagnostic test in November 2002. We compared the epidemiological trends for 1996-2006 in Central Lancashire with a control area which used a standard wet preparation diagnostic method throughout. Poisson regression modelling was used to investigate trends in giardiasis before and after the introduction of the test. In the control area, incidence of giardiasis was four per 100,000 in 2005. In contrast, in Central Lancashire, the rates increased in temporal association with the introduction of the enzyme immunoassay test from 10.1 per 100,000 population in 2002 to 33.6 per 100,000 in 2006. The increase in giardiasis was unexplained by local factors including travel, outbreaks or sampling trends. The increase in giardiasis occurred in all age groups except for males aged 0-14 years and was most marked in males aged 25-44 years. The relative risk for trend post-test introduction in Central Lancashire was 1.11 (95% CI, 1.01-1.23). This suggests that the increase in giardiasis following the introduction of the sensitive enzyme immunoassay test was at least in part due to improved detection. There appears to be considerable under-diagnosis of giardiasis, particularly in adults. Additional research is required to evaluate the enzyme immunoassay test more widely. The test may assist in standardisation of diagnostic methods for giardiasis and enable more accurate estimation of disease burden and transmission routes.


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