Parasites are one of my favorite topics. I think it’s worth knowing something about both Dientamoeba fragilis and Blastocystis hominis.
Blastocystis is very common. With air travel being so cheap, it’s probably one of the most common parasites in the Western world. Up to 23% of people in the USA have got Blastocystis.
Where does the “hominis” part come from? Several years ago, it was discovered that this protozoan was found a lot in humans, hence the term “hominis.”
However, since that time, they found similar Blastocystis in the intestines of snacks, amphibians, rats, and gorillas. All sorts of creatures can have Blastocystis. In fact, there are over ten RNA variants of Blastocystis.
One of the reasons Blasto is so hard to treat effectively is because of the number of strains. Interestingly, in some people, Blasto causes significant problems, and in others, it’s basically benign. In other words, some people who are infected by Blasto, don’t get sick at all, others get mildly ill, and others get quite sick. People who are immunocompromised are the most likely to be severely impacted by Blasto.
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That’s why if you have an impaired immune system, it’s not a great idea to handle animals or travel widely. You also need to be much more careful with handwashing because the main route of Blastocystis transmission is fecal-oral.
There is a high chance that you have Blasto if you have irritable bowel syndrome that you can’t shake. The possibility of a Blastocystis infection is one of the main reasons I so strongly recommend having a comprehensive stool analysis.
As for Dientamoeba fragilis, note the word “fragilis” on the end, which refers to the organism’s inability to last very long outside of the body. Dientamoeba dies very quickly, which is one reason I find it much easier to treat than Blasto. Dientamoeba is also linked to irritable bowel syndrome, but it is nowhere near as prevalent as Blastocystis.
Dientamoeba tends to be more common in affluent communities for some reason. It also impacts younger people most commonly, particularly those under the age of 8.
I have seen Dientamoeba in adults, and nearly every time, it disappears in four to six weeks while the Blasto persists.
In both cases, you don’t have to fear these parasites. Improve your health and gut, and over time, your parasite levels should drop.