Balantidiosis is an infection with the intestinal protozoan parasite called Balantidium coli /B.coli/. This type of infection israre in Bulgaria, although people can become infected with B.coli from ingesting infectious cysts from food or water that has been contaminated with faeces. In most cases, the infection is without symptoms, but some people develop symptoms, the most common being diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Where is Balantidium coli endemic?

This type of infection is rare in our country, but it is nevertheless a zoonosis whose main reservoir for humans is pigs. Therefore, the disease occurs more often in areas where pigs are raised, especially if sanitary and hygienic requirements are not observed.

And in view of the difficult situation of animal breeders in Bulgaria, there is a serious risk of infection around pig farms.

How is Balantidium coli transmitted?

The protozoan parasite is transmitted by the fecal-oral route. People can become infected from contaminated water or food that has been in contact with infected animal or human excreta. Infection can occur in several ways:

Consuming meat, fruits and vegetables that have been contaminated by an infected person or by animal feces containing the parasite’s infective cysts.
• Washing food or drinking contaminated water.
Bad hygiene habits;

What are the symptoms and signs?

Most people infected do not show any symptoms. Balantidium coli infects the large intestine, in which infectious microscopic cysts are released, which are washed in the feces, creating a danger of re-worming or helminthizing other people.

Those affected with a compromised immune system have the most serious clinical manifestations. The initial manifestations of the disease appear within 5-30 days of infection. Most often they are persistent diarrhea with fairly frequent defecation – usually between 6 and 10 per day, dysentery, very severe abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea and vomiting.

The faeces during bowel movements are watery, possibly containing impurities of blood and mucus, and have a very sharp, unpleasant putrid smell. In most cases, if not treated, it is possible that the infected person will get a perforation of the colon.


How is the diagnosis made?

Laboratory examination of fecal samples is carried out. Under the microscope, the protozoan parasite can be detected in the feces.

Treatment of balantidiosis

There are 3 medications that are used to destroy the parasite. These are tetracycline, metronidazole and iodoquinol. But they are available with a prescription, so if you think you have worms, you must first be diagnosed and then given treatment.

How can we prevent this type of parasitosis?

The most effective way to prevent it is to observe the standards of good personal hygiene. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water after visiting the sanitary facilities, changing diapers and after handling food products.

Repeat to your children the importance of regular hand washing to prevent communicable diseases. Wash all fruits and vegetables with clean water when preparing or before eating, even if they can be peeled.

It is recommended that root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots be soaked in vinegar and then washed with water. Also, after cutting the vegetables, wash the knife before you start cutting anything else.

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