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Cryptosporidium parvum and Isopora belli infections among patients with and without diarrhoea

RJ Cranendonk, CJ Kodde, D Chipeta, EE Zijlstra, JF Sluiters


Objective: To assess the importance of Cryptosporidium parvum and Isospora belli infections as a cause of diarrhoea among patients admitted to the Medical Wards in Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre, Malawi.

Design: Prospective case control study.

Subjects: One hundred and twenty one patients with diarrhoea and 122 patients without diarrhoea.

Main outcome measures: Demonstration of C. parvum and I. belli oocysts by examination of at least one stool sample per patient using phenol auramine-O-fluorescence staining and an immuno-fluorescent assay with monoclonal antibodies against Cryptosporidium, seropositivity for HIV and AIDS.

Results: In 22% of the patients with diarrhoea an infection with C. parvum or I. belli was found. Thirteen (11%) of them had a C. parvum and 14 (12%) an I. belli infection; a mixed infection was found in one patient. In the control group, three (3%) C. parvum and three (3%) I. belli infections were seen. The prevalence of both infections was very significantly higher in the cohort of diarrhoea patients than in the controls, 13/108 versus 3/119 (p=0.0099) for C. parvum, and 14/107 versus 3/119 (p=0.0056) for I. belli. Infections were only seen in HIV positive patients. Two hundred and four (84%) patients were HIV positive and 145 (60%) of them had AIDS.

Conclusions: C. parvum and I. belli infections are a significant cause of diarrhoea among medical in-patients at QECH. Examinations of stool specimen for parasites among hospitalised patients with diarrhoea provide data for a more appropriate management.

East African Medical Journal Vol.80(8) 2003:398-401

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East African Medical Journal.   ISSN: 0012 835x