Lankan patient with record parasite

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

A large protozoan parasite ‘Balantidium coli,’ whose host is the pig, was found in a Sri Lankan. The spokesman for the Health Ministry said yesterday that the Medical Research Institute had identified it as the largest microscopic protozoan parasite found in the body of a Sri Lankan.

He said the parasite leaves its normal host the pig through the fecal-oral route from its normal host, the pig. Contaminated water is the most common mechanism of transmission. The parasite was found in excrete of a patient at the Colombo National Hospital(CNH). The spokesman said that a large number of these parasites had been found in the abdomen of the same patient. The Patient had been admitted to the hospital with a skin infection.

The parasite causes cysts, dysentery, diarrhoea and rashes, he said.

The spokesman said that parallel to this the MRI had also identified another parasite, ‘Strongyloids stercoralis,’ a Nematode known as the thread worm was found in another patient at the CNH.

He said that this patient too had a large number of the parasite in his abdomen. The parasite enters through the skin. But this is the first time that such large number has been found. It had been living in the said patient for the last 25 years. The patient had been on ‘Prednisolone,’ a steroid which had weakened his immune system, the spokesman said.

These types of parasite survive in bodies in which the immune system is weak, he said quoting Dr. Sagarika Samarasinghe, the Chief of the Parasitological Unit of the MRI. The immune system is weakened due to HIV infection as well. So persons who are on steroids such as ‘Prednisolone,’ should be careful, he warned.

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