Parasitic infections of the intestine

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Intestinal protozoal infections cause significant disease not only in the tropics but also in immunocompromised hosts and returning travellers in the developed world. Precise diagnosis of protozoal intestinal infection by microscopy can be difficult. Enzyme immunoassays for antigen detection are being used for some protozoal infections with some limitations which will, it is hoped, be overcome by molecular techniques. Nucleic acid amplification techniques could help improve detection of microsporidial species, which are difficult to detect microscopically and allow differentiation between Entamoeba histolytica and Entamoeba dispar. Definitive treatment for Cryptosporidium parvum infection remains elusive but new drugs are being evaluated. Cessation of thiabendazole production should not affect therapy of intestinal nematode infections as potent alternative therapy is available.

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