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J Clin Microbiol. 1990 January; 28(1): 116–121.
PMCID: PMC269548

Epidemiology and pathogenicity of Blastocystis hominis.


A prospective study was performed on a large outpatient population to evaluate the epidemiology and pathogenicity of Blastocystis hominis. Patients with stool specimens positive for B. hominis and negative for other bacterial and parasitic pathogens were sent a questionnaire and were requested to submit a follow-up specimen for ova-and-parasite examination. B. hominis was identified in 530 of 16,545 specimens (3.2%). There was a spectrum of clinical-pathological presentations in the 143 patients evaluated. An asymptomatic carrier state was seen in 19 patients. Fifteen patients had an illness consistent with acute self-limited B. hominis gastroenteritis, and 21 patients had chronic gastroenteritis associated with B. hominis. In the epidemiological evaluation of 130 patients, the most common symptoms were watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, and gas. We did not find a statistically significant association between the number of organisms present and the disease state. In summary, our results are consistent with a role for B. hominis in acute and chronic gastroenteritis; however, further detailed studies are necessary to determine whether that role is one of association or causation.

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