Epidemiological and clinical profile of adult patients with Blastocystis sp. infection in Barcelona, Spain

Fernando Salvador, Elena Sulleiro, Adrián Sánchez-Montalvá, Carmen Alonso, Javier Santos, Isabel Fuentes, Israel Molina

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24 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 The Author(s). Background: Blastocystis spp. are among the most frequently observed intestinal parasites in humans. Despite the discovery of Blastocystis approximately 100 years ago, limited information is available regarding its pathogenesis, genetic diversity, and available treatment options. The aim of this study was to describe the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of patients with Blastocystis sp. infections diagnosed at Vall d'Hebron University Hospital (Barcelona, Spain). Methods: A retrospective observational study was performed which included all adult patients who attended Vall d'Hebron University Hospital from February 2009 to March 2014 that had Blastocystis sp. detected in their stool. Results: Four hundred eighteen patients were included, the median age was 36 (18-86) years and 236 (56.5 %) were men. Regarding patient symptoms, 234 (56 %) patients were completely asymptomatic, 92 (22 %) patients had symptoms, and 92 (22 %) patients had symptoms that could be attributed to other causes. Of the 92 patients with symptoms not attributable to other etiologies except for Blastocystis infection, the most frequent symptoms were diarrhea (61 patients, 66.3 %) and abdominal pain (34 patients, 37 %). Additionally, nine (9.8 %) patients had cutaneous manifestations. Thirty-one (7.4 %) patients received specific treatment for Blastocystis infection. The clinical response of treated patients was varied. Five patients experienced complete resolution of symptoms, 12 patients reported improvement of clinical symptoms, eight patients described no clinical improvement, and information was unavailable for six patients. Conclusions: Blastocystis infection was detected in 418 patients, most of them foreign-born. Although the vast majority of patients were asymptomatic, 22 % of patients had gastrointestinal symptoms or cutaneous manifestations in the absence of other causes. Despite the scarce information available, given the safety of antiparasitic treatment, and the percentage of patients who experienced resolution or improvement of symptoms, treatment should be considered in patients with chronic symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1827
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2016


  • Blastocystis
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Intestinal protozoa
  • Metronidazole


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