Tags: Abdominal pain


Human infections caused by cestodes, or tapeworms, may occur within the lumen of the bowel, where adult cestodes attach themselves to the host intestine (Box 1). Alternatively, human infection may be the result of dissemination of cestodes from the bowel to involve extraintestinal sites, often by larval forms of the parasite. The life cycle of cestodes is determined by definitive hosts, in whom the mature adult worm lives, and intermediate hosts, which harbor the larval forms of the parasite. Humans are a definitive host for six cestodes: Diphyllobothrium latum, Taenia solium, Taenia saginata, Hymenolepis diminuta, Hymenolepis nana, and Dipylidium caninum.

Diphyllobothrium Latum Infection

D latum is found worldwide, and infection is acquired by ingestion of contaminated raw or improperly cooked freshwater fish. Because of enthusiasm for raw or undercooked fish, Siberia, Europe, Canada, Alaska, and Japan are endemic regions for D latum infection. Once the D latum cyst has been ingested, the worm matures within the human intestine and begins to produce eggs after 5 weeks.

American Trypanosomiasis (Chagas’ Disease)

T cruzi is found only in the Western Hemisphere, where it ranges from the southern United States to Argentina. An estimated 16 million-18 million people in Latin America have chronic T cruzi infections and ~ 50,000 die of Chagas’ disease each year. In the United States, there has been concern about transmission of the organism via blood transfusion from unsuspected infected donors who are immigrants from endemic zones. Similar concerns arise for organ transplant recipients.

Giardia: Clinical Syndromes

After ingestion of G lamblia cysts, 5-15% of patients will have asymptomatic cyst passage, and 25-50% of patients will have diarrhea. From 35% to 70% of these patients will have no evidence of infection. The three manifestations of infection include asymptomatic cyst passage, self-limited diarrhea, and chronic diarrhea with associated malabsorption and weight loss. Factors related to each of these manifestations are unknown but are believed to be related to specific host factors, parasite load, and virulence variation among G lamblia isolates.

Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, & Isospora Species & Microsporidia

Within the last decade, the AIDS epidemic has heightened awareness of several gastrointestinal spore-forming protozoan pathogens. The genera Cryptosporidium, Isospora, and Cyclospora are members of the subclass Coccidia and phylum Apicomplexa; the microsporidia are a group of organisms belonging to the phylum Microspora.

Pathogenic Amebas

There are numerous distinct species of ameba within the genus Entamoeba, and the majority of these do not cause disease in humans. E histolytica is a pathogenic species that is capable of causing disease, such as colitis or liver abscess, in humans. E dispar is prevalent and is indistinguishable from E histolytica by conventional laboratory methods. E dispar exists in humans in only an asymptomatic carrier state and does not cause colitis.