Chilomastix mesnili is an apparently nonpathogenic (i.e., commensal) flagellate found worldwide in the human cecum and/or colon. Non-human animals may serve as a reservoir for Chilomastix. The resistant cyst stage in the life cycle of Chilomastix is responsible for transmission. Both cysts and trophozoites can be found in the feces (diagnostic stages). Infection occurs by the ingestion of cysts in contaminated water or food or by the fecal-oral route (via hands or fomites, i.e., inanimate objects such as towels that transmit infectious organisms to a host). In the large (and possibly small) intestine, excystation releases trophozoites.
Chilomastix mesnili is a non-parasitic member of primate gastrointestinal microflora, commonly associated with but not causing parasitic infections. It is found in about 3.5% of the population in the United States. In addition to humans, Chilomastix is found in chimpanzees, orangutans, monkeys, and pigs. It lives in the cecum and colon. C. mesnili has a similar life style to Giardia lamblia.
Although Chilomastix mesnili is considered non-pathogenic, it often occurs with other parasite infections. C. mesnili may be confused with other pathogenic species during diagnosis. It can create a false positive which would result in unnecessary treatment or a false negative which would withhold necessary treatment.
Schmidt, G. and Roberts, L. 2005. Foundations of Parasitology (7th ed.), New York: McGraw-Hill
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