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Brief Summary

Dientamoeba fragilis is a unicellular parasite typically found in children complaining of gastrointestinal (e.g., intermittent diarrhea, abdominal pain) and other symptoms (e.g., nausea, anorexia, fatigue, malaise, and poor weight gain), but diagnosis can be difficult. This parasite has a worldwide occurrence. Although it was discovered over a century ago, the complete life cycle and mode of transmission of D. fragilis have not yet been clearly determined. Some researchers suspect D. fragilis may be transmitted between individual humans by the fecal-oral route (as is the case for some of its relatives) and transmission via helminth eggs (e.g., Ascaris, Enterobius) has also been postulated (the closest relative of Dientamoeba is transmitted via the ova of a helminth). Some investigators have suggested that other animals are responsible for the transmission of Dientamoeba to humans, but reports of Dientamoeba in animals are sporadic (but see, e.g., Lankester et al. 2010) and not always well supported. Trophozoites of D. fragilis characteristically have one or two nuclei. (Centers for Disease Control Parasites and Health Website; Lankester et al. 2010; Barratt et al. 2011)

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