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Do not forget the stool examination!—cutaneous and gastrointestinal manifestations of Blastocystis sp. infection

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Blastocystis sp. is one of the most common parasites in the human intestinal tract. This infection commonly is accompanied by diarrhoea and abdominal pain, but extraintestinal symptoms, such as skin lesions, may also accompany the disease. In this study, our aim was to assess the frequency, clinical symptoms and skin manifestations of confirmed positive Blastocystis sp. infections. Data of 80 patients with confirmed positive Blastocystis sp. infections were assessed retrospectively. The average age of the patients was 46.3 years of age (with a range between 13 and 85 years of age). The number of female patients was higher than the number of males (48 vs. 32; 60 vs. 40 %). Gastrointestinal and dermatological symptoms and the results of routine biochemical and haematological blood tests of enrolled patients were collected and analyzed. The skin manifestations were analyzed using the data available (including descriptions, photos and histologies). We discovered that 11.25 % of our enrolled patients exhibited skin manifestations associated to Blastocystis sp., mainly on the females. The occurrence of Blastocystis sp. was 6 % in symptomatic patients who required medical attendance in the time period between 2005 and 2013. Of the 80 patients, 73.75 % indicated that they had gastrointestinal symptoms: 40 patients complained of abdominal pain and 17 with blood in their stool, while other symptoms, such as meteorism (15 subjects), weigh loss (8 subjects), perianal pain or itching (6 subjects), passing stool with mucus (5 subjects), vomiting (2 subjects) and fever (2 subjects) were less frequent. The prevalence of abdominal pain in the cohort without skin lesions was higher compared to those patients with skin problems (p = 0.007). The mean value of C-reactive protein showed elevated levels, but eosinophils were within a normal range. In addition, we did not find significant difference in eosinophilia between patients with vs. without skin manifestations. Thus, we suggest that eosinophilia is not an obligatory laboratory finding in protozoon infections, such as Blastocystis sp. In the light of our results, we suggest a stool parasite examination for patients with skin lesions of unknown origin.

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This work was supported by OTKA Research Proposal PD 105948 (PI: Klaudia Farkas) and TÁMOP-4.2.2.A-11/1/KONV-2012-0035, TÁMOP-4.2.2-A-11/1/KONV-2012 0052 TÁMOP-4.2.2.A-11/1/KONV-2012-0073 and TÁMOP-4.2.2.A-11/1/KONV-2012-0052.

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Correspondence to Tamás Molnár.

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Bálint, A., Dóczi, I., Bereczki, L. et al. Do not forget the stool examination!—cutaneous and gastrointestinal manifestations of Blastocystis sp. infection. Parasitol Res 113, 1585–1590 (2014).

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  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Skin Lesion
  • Rifaximin
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth