Dientamoeba Fragilis: A Review with Notes on its Epidemiology, Pathogenicity, Mode of Transmission, and Diagnosis

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  • Parasitology Laboratory, Ontario Ministry of Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dientamoeba fragilis was found in 4.2% of approximately 43,000 individuals who submitted stools for parasitological examination during 1970 to 1974. The parasite was more frequently found in the younger age group (<20 years) than in older age groups, and more often in females than in males. Symptoms in 255 of patients in whom D. fragilis was the only parasite found and for whom detailed symptoms had been supplied, included: diarrhea, abdominal pains, anal pruritus, and loose stools. Analysis of mixed infections of D. fragilis with intestinal helminths suggests that such infections are random except for the combination of D. fragilis and Enterobius vermicularis. This combination occurred 9 times more often than theoretically expected. Daily periodicity and distribution of D. fragilis within stools of one patient were studied over a period of 6 months. More than twice as many organisms per ml of stool were present in the last than in the first portion evacuated. The total number of organisms excreted fluctuated markedly from day to day.