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Epidemiol Infect. 1999 Dec;123(3):457-62.

Intestinal protozoa in HIV-infected patients in Apulia, South Italy.

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Dipartimento di Clinica Medica, Immunologia e Malattie Infettive, University of Bari, Policlinico, Italy.


Protozoa are important enteric pathogens in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. In this study the prevalence of intestinal protozoa in 154 HIV-infected patients, with or without diarrhoea, in our region (Apulia, South Italy) was evaluated between December 1993 and February 1998. In the majority of patients CD4+ T cell count was below 200/microl. The overall prevalence of intestinal protozoa was 43/154 (27.92%). Twenty-eight (43.08%) out of 65 patients with diarrhoea and 15 (16-85%) out of 89 non-diarrhoeic patients were parasitized. In particular, in the group of 65 patients with diarrhoea the following protozoa were identified: Cryptosporidium parvum in 14 (21.54%), Blastocystis hominis in 7 (10.77%), microsporidia in 6 (9.23%), Giardia lamblia in 4 (6.15%) and Isospora belli in 1 (1.54%). Three patients were Cryptosporidium parvum-microsporidia co-infected. In patients without intestinal symptoms, prevalence was 3/89 (3.37%) for Cryptosporidium parvum, 9/89 (10.11%) for Blastocystis hominis, 1/89 (1.12%) for microsporidia and 2/89 (2.25%) for Giardia lamblia. A significant (P<0.001) correlation was observed between protozoan infection and the presence of diarrhoea. In particular, Cryptosporidium parvum and microsporidia infections were significantly (P<0.001) and P = 0.046, respectively) associated with diarrhoeal illness. Moreover, the majority of cases of cryptosporidiosis were first diagnosed in the periods of heaviest rainfall. Therefore, drinking water contamination may be a possible source of human infection in our area.

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