Treatment options for the eradication of intestinal protozoa

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Abstract

SUMMARY

Pathogenic intestinal protozoa are responsible for clinically important infections in both the developed and the developing world. These organisms are responsible for both acute and chronic diarrhea, and Entamoeba histolytica, which affects the colon, can spread to involve the liver. Many of these pathogens, particularly the intracellular protozoa that predominantly affect the small intestine, produce their most devastating effects in patients with HIV/AIDS and other forms of immune deficiency. There are also various intestinal protozoa that do not seem to have any adverse effects on humans and can, therefore, be regarded as harmless commensal organisms. Although treatment has been available for several decades for giardiasis, isosporiasis and amoebiasis, until recently there have been no effective remedies for infection with intestinal coccidia-Cryptosporidium, Microsporidium and Cyclospora species. Cyclospora respond well to co-trimoxazole, microsporidia respond variably to albendazole, and cryptosporidia can often be eradicated by nitazoxanide. In chronically infected HIV-positive patients, treatment with multidrug regimens usually results in rapid resolution of the diarrhea and, in many instances, eradication of the parasite.

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