Balantidiasis is a parasitic infection caused by Balantidium coli. People who ingest the contaminated food or water that contains the protozoan are likely to develop this infection. It causes diarrhea and stomach pain since the parasite affects the large intestine. The parasites exist in the form of trophozoite or cysts and multiply by binary fission attacking caecum to rectum of large intestine.
Balantidium coli cause balantidiasis infection which lives in the host like pigs and other animals.
Balantidiasis infection is not found in the USA but is common in under-developed countries and that too in the tropical regions. Southeast Asia, Latin America and New Guinea are the regions prone to Balantidiasis infection. People who breed pigs as means of living are more likely to get this infection. Humans who live in the regions where pigs are raised are at high risk.
Mode of Transmission :
Balantidiasis infection spreads by eating contaminated food or water that contains the cysts of B. Coli. People with poor hygiene and those who handle pork and pig feces can easily get this infection. Eating the meat of infected pig, drinking contaminated water that contains the eggs or cysts of parasites and following poor hygiene in toilet are the main cause of developing Balantidiasis.
The person who has ingested the cysts of B coli would develop diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and headache. There can be bloody discharge in the stool. It can cause loss of weight due to poor absorption of nutrients.
Your doctor would order for stool analysis to detect the protozoan under a microscope. He may do colonoscopy to collect the tissue sample of the intestine or ulcerous growth inside.
Medications like metronidazole, tetracycline and iodoquinol are given for treating balantidiasis. In rare cases the appendix are affected surgery is done for removing appendicitis. Affected individual should go for regular checkup even there is no symptoms. The doctor would further analyze the stool sample to confirm it is free from parasite.
Tips for Prevention :
Follow good hygiene while handling animal feces. Washing the hands thoroughly with soap water can help in preventing the contamination of fecal particles with food or water.