Dientamoeba fragilis infection - including symptoms, treatment and prevention
Dientamoeba fragilis (D. fragilis) is a single-celled parasite. It is not known for certain whether D. fragilis causes illness or not. D. fragilis is commonly found in faeces, both of people who are well and in people who have diarrhoea or other intestinal symptoms.
How Dientamoeba fragilis is spread
Uncertain. There are two main theories of how D. fragilis spreads.
D. fragilis may be spread through contamination of hands, objects or food with infected faeces. The parasite is then taken in by the mouth.
Alternatively, D. fragilis may be spread by threadworms (pinworms). D. fragilis might be protected by threadworm eggs. Threadworms are caught when someone swallows the worm’s eggs. Threadworm eggs hatch inside the bowel, where they live, then travel out through the anus (back passage) to lay their eggs on the skin there at night time. Threadworm eggs may be picked up on the fingers and transferred to the mouth if the person scratches their bottom or does not wash their hands after going to the toilet. Threadworm eggs may also fall off into bedding or clothing, or be wafted into the air, settling on many surfaces in the home or school.
Signs and symptoms of Dientamoeba fragilis infection
People who are infected with D. fragilis may not have any symptoms.
Symptoms, when they occur, may include: abdominal pain, diarrhoea, excess gas, poor appetite, fatigue, nausea, weight loss, vomiting and tiredness. It may be that these symptoms are not caused by D. fragilis infection.
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