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Dientamoeba Fragilis Infection - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Definition:

Dientamoeba fragilis is an intestinal flagellate that lives in the large intestine. Infection occurs worldwide and is common in the United States. Those at greatest risk are people who live in poor sanitary conditions or travelers visiting developing countries. Prognosis is good for complete resolution of infection with treatment.

Causes of Dientamoeba Fragilis Infection

The infection is caused by the parasite D fragilis and is thought to be transmitted through the oralfecal route. The life cycle of this parasite hasn't been determined.

Signs and Symptoms of Dientamoeba Fragilis Infection

Many people with this infection are asymptomatic. The most common symptoms are loose stools, intermittent diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. Anorexia, fatigue, weight loss, and abdominal tenderness may also occur.

Diagnosis of Dientamoeba Fragilis Infection

The diagnosis is made by detection of trophozoites of D fragilis in permanently stained fecal smears. Several samples obtained on alternate days are helpful in increasing the rate of detection. Fecal samples should be preserved immediately after collection.

Other infections to consider are cyclosporiasis, microsporidiosis, balantidiasis, amebiasis, and giardiasis.

Treatment for Dientamoeba Fragilis Infection

Antimicrobial agents such as iodoquinol, paromomycin, or tetracycline are appropriate for treatment.

Special Considerations and Prevention Tips for Dientamoeba Fragilis Infection

  • Follow standard precautions. Thorough hand washing before and after any contact with the patient is a must. Advise others such as family members to do the same. Teach the patient to use proper hand-washing technique, especially after defecating and before eating or handling food.
  • Store stool specimens in airtight containers to minimize exposure to oxygen and desiccation. Specimens should be submitted to a laboratory within 24 hours of collection.
  • To prevent acquiring or spreading D fragilis, stress the importance of washing hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, especially after using the toilet, changing baby diapers, and before preparing foods.

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