Point Prevalence of Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, and Isospora Infections in Patients Being Evaluated for Diarrhea

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From March to September 2001, 315 specimens from “nonrepeat” patients that were submitted for ova and parasite examination were stained using the Kinyoun modified acid-fast stain to detect the intestinal coccidians. Four patients (1.3%) were infected with coccidians, 2 with Cryptosporidium parvum and 2 with Cyclospora cayetanensis. No infections withIsospora belli were detected. In comparison, 15 patients (4.8%) had infections with one or more intestinal parasites detected by routine trichrome staining: 5 had Giardia lamblia; 2, Dientamoeba fragilis; 3, Strongyloides stercoralis; 1, Iodamoeba bütschlii; 3, Endolimax nana; 6, Blastocystis hominis; and 1, Entamoeba coli. Four patients were multiply infected. Coccidians made up 29% of the clinically significant parasitic infections. The coccidians were missed in all 4 cases because no special staining was ordered. Clinicians need to be reminded that additional tests should be ordered to fully evaluate patients with chronic diarrhea in which no diagnosis is found by routine testing.

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