Common intestinal parasites.Am Fam Physician. 2004 Mar 01; 69(5):1161-8.AF
Intestinal parasites cause significant morbidity and mortality. Diseases caused by Enterobius vermicularis, Giardia lamblia, Ancylostoma duodenale, Necator americanus, and Entamoeba histolytica occur in the United States. E. vermicularis, or pinworm, causes irritation and sleep disturbances. Diagnosis can be made using the "cellophane tape test." Treatment includes mebendazole and household sanitation. Giardia causes nausea, vomiting, malabsorption, diarrhea, and weight loss. Stool ova and parasite studies are diagnostic. Treatment includes metronidazole. Sewage treatment, proper handwashing, and consumption of bottled water can be preventive. A. duodenale and N. americanus are hookworms that cause blood loss, anemia, pica, and wasting. Finding eggs in the feces is diagnostic. Treatments include albendazole, mebendazole, pyrantel pamoate, iron supplementation, and blood transfusion. Preventive measures include wearing shoes and treating sewage. E. histolytica can cause intestinal ulcerations, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, fever, gastrointestinal obstruction, and peritonitis. Amebas can cause abscesses in the liver that may rupture into the pleural space, peritoneum, or pericardium. Stool and serologic assays, biopsy, barium studies, and liver imaging have diagnostic merit. Therapy includes luminal and tissue amebicides to attack both life-cycle stages. Metronidazole, chloroquine, and aspiration are treatments for liver abscess. Careful sanitation and use of peeled foods and bottled water are preventive.