Health Protection

(BLASS-toe-SIS-tiss HOM-in-iss)

What is blastocystis hominis? Blastocystis hominis is a common microscopic parasite organism found throughout the world. Infection with blastocystis hominis is called blastocystosis (BLASS-toe-SIS-toesis). What are the symptoms of blastocystosis? Watery or loose stools, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anal itching, weight loss, and excess gas have all been reported in persons with blastocystosis. Many people have no symptoms at all. How long will I be infected? Blastocystis can remain in the intestines for weeks, months or years. Is blastocystosis the cause of my symptoms? It is hard to be sure and experts disagree on this point. Whether or not blastocystis is the primary cause of your symptoms is unknown. Finding it in stool samples should be followed up with a careful search for other possible causes of your symptoms. Symptoms may be caused by infection with other parasitic organisms, bacteria or viruses. Often blastocytis is found along with other organisms that are more likely to be the cause of your symptoms. Sometimes symptoms are not caused by an infection at all. Antibiotics, some cancer drugs and medications used to control high blood pressure may be causing your symptoms. Hormone or endocrine diseases, diseases like Crohn's and colitis, or hereditary factors may be the cause of illness. Food additives or food allergies may also be a cause of abdominal discomfort. Is having blastocystosis common? Yes. In fact, many people have blastocystosis without ever having symptoms. What should I do if I think I have blastocystosis? See your health care provider. He or she will ask you to provide stool samples for testing. Diagnosis may be difficult, so you may be asked to submit several stool samples.

CDFS-NR-1 Page 1 of 2 Provided courtesy of Health Protection, Grey Bruce Health Unit Owen Sound – 519-376 9420 or 1-800-263-3456 Walkerton – 519-881-1920 or 1-800-821-7714
Updated August 2005

Stellbrink HJ. J. Minshew BH. Infect Dis 1993. be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with plenty of soap and warm water after every diaper Page 2 of 2 Provided courtesy of Health Protection. Scand J Gastroenterol 1995. Grey Bruce Health Unit Owen Sound – 519-376 9420 or 1-800-263-3456 Walkerton – 519-881-1920 or 1-800-821-7714 Updated August 2005 . Blastocystis hominis infection and intestinal injury. prevalence in asymptomatic versus symptomatic hosts. Centre for Disease Control. 168:242-4. 5. Blastocystis hominis. Zuckerman MJ. Bottled or canned carbonated beverages. Wash and peel all raw vegetables and fruits before eating. avoid drinking unboiled tap water and avoid uncooked foods washed with unboiled tap water.35:1023-6. Udkow MP. seltzers. Markell EK. 2. and steaming hot coffee and tea are safe to drink. drugs are available by prescription to treat blastocystosis. Blastocystis hominis in human immunodeficiency virus-related diarrhea. et al.Health & Environment Facts Is medication available to treat blastocystosis? Yes. et al. If you practice adequate personal hygiene. Albrecht J. Rev Infect Dis 1988. How can I prevent infection with Blastocystis?  Wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet and before handling food. Watts MT. Blastocystis hominis: an organism in search of a disease.308:96-101. pasteurized fruit drinks.    Avoid water or food that may be contaminated. Miller RA. If you work in a childcare centre and you change diapers. Department of Health & Human Services.on. Udkow MP.30:909-14. however. 4. Am J Med Sci 1994. Blastocystis hominis. 3. When traveling to countries where the water supply may be unsafe.10:930-8. pathogen or fellow traveler? Am J Trop Med Hyg 1986.. Koperski K. 1998 Offices: CDFS-NR-1 www. including proper hand washing with soap and warm water after using the toilet and before handling food. there is little risk of spreading infection.  Should I be concerned about spreading infection to the rest of my household? No. Ho H. sometimes medication is not effective. How did I get blastocystosis? How blastocystosis is transmitted is unknown. although the number of people infected seems to increase in areas where sanitation and personal hygiene are inadequate.publichealthgreybruce. Markell EK. For more information: 1. even if you wear gloves.

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