Post-arrival health screening in Karen refugees in Australia

  • G.A. P
  • K.J. S
  • E.L. M
  • et al.
Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.


Objective: To document the prevalence of nutritional deficiencies, infectious diseases and susceptibility to vaccine preventable diseases in Karen refugees in Australia. Design: Retrospective audit of pathology results. Setting: Community based cohort in Melbourne over the period July 2006-October 2009. Participants: 1136 Karen refugee children and adults, representing almost complete local area settlement and 48% of total Victorian Karen humanitarian intake for the time period. Main Outcome Measures: Prevalence of positive test results for refugee health screening, with breakdown by age group (<6 years, 6-11 years, 12-17 years, 18 years and older). Results: Overall prevalence figures were: anaemia 9.2%, microcytosis 19.1%, iron deficiency 13.1%, low vitamin B12 1.5%, low folate 1.5%, abnormal thyroid function tests 4.4%, vitamin D<50 nmol/L 33.3%, hypocalcaemia 7.4%, raised alkaline phosphatase 5.2%, abnormal liver transaminases 16.1%, hepatitis B surface antigen positive 9.7%, hepatitis B surface antibody positive 49.5%, isolated hepatitis B core antibody positive 9.0%, hepatitis C positive 1.9%, eosinophilia 14.4%, Schistosoma infection 7%, Strongyloides infection 20.8%, malaria 0.2%, faecal parasites 43.4%. Quantiferon-gold screening was positive in 20.9%. No cases of syphilis or HIV were identified. Serological immunity to vaccine preventable diseases was 87.1% for measles, 95% for mumps and 66.4% for rubella; 56.9% of those tested had seroimmunity to all three. Conclusions: Karen refugees have high rates of nutritional deficiencies and infectious diseases and may be susceptible to vaccine preventable diseases. These data support the need for post-arrival health screening and accessible, funded catch-up immunisation. © 2012 Paxton et al.




G.A., P., K.J., S., E.L., M., C.R.J., M., & R.H., D. (2012). Post-arrival health screening in Karen refugees in Australia. PLoS ONE. G. A. Paxton, Royal Children’s Hospital, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. E-mail: Public Library of Science (185 Berry Street, Suite 1300, San Francisco CA 94107, United States). Retrieved from

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free