http://www.ingentaconnect.com/searc...00000063/00000607/art00021&mimetype=text/html ME/CFS and Blastocystis spp or Dientamoeba fragilis, an in-house comparison David Dunwell Mayfly Cottage, Netton Island, Bishopstone, Salisbury, SP5 4DD. E-mail: David Dunwell@btinternet.com Go to section... In their Global Health editorial BJGP (October) on exotic infections, Behrens and Coltart did not mention the more mundane high prevalence of protozoal infections in warmer climates.1 We caught the anaerobic protozoa Blastocystis spp and Dientamoeba fragilis in Burma, however they are already common in UK, but little known to practitioners. Blastocystis was the most common enteric parasite (6.9%) found in routine stool samples in a study in Wales2 and D. fragilis was found in up to 16.9% of samples submitted to alternative practitioners.3 However, the detection of both parasites is difficult and requires specialist laboratories; even then they may not be found. Faeco-oral seems their likely mode of transmission. The pathogenic nature of D. fragilis is now more accepted,4 but two forms are known;5 while nine different subtypes of Blastocystis have been reported, observed disorders appear to be subtype dependent.6 Both protozoa have been linked to IBS.7,8 Treatment of Blastocystis is varied and metronidazole has shown resistance.9 For D. fragilis, only secnidazole10 and paromomycin11 gave very low treatment failure rates. Although both medicines are old, and both are registered and used within the EU, neither is registered for any use in UK. My wife and I presented common severely debilitating symptoms of chronic fatigue and inability to concentrate for extended periods. I initially had severe diarrhoea, followed by soreness in the lower bowel, while my wife showed almost no intestinal disturbance or discomfort, however when we both had the same diet, the symptoms were the same. Later, headaches became more prevalent. The addition of milk (2% fat) plus cereals, particularly wheat based, increased the bowel disturbance. We had many blood and stool tests, with essentially no adverse findings. After many months and over 10 stool samples from each, I was diagnosed with D. fragilis and my wife with Blastocystis. Both had been found by microscopic examination of preserved stained specimens. The parasites were treated: D. fragilis with paromomycin (750 mg tid) for 10 days (28 mg/kg) and Blastocystis with nitazoxanide (500 mg bid) for 3 days. Bowel disturbance continued for several weeks in both patients. Our experiences, although limited, do offer direct comparisons between the parasites and support the conclusion that both can be pathogenic and the effects of both organisms can be similar, giving the ME (myalgic encephalopathy) symptoms of chronic physical and mental fatigue, with bowel disturbances related to cereal/milk diet. However, for patients and practitioners, the biggest problem is lack of efficacious approved drugs in UK. I wish to thank the laboratory staff in the Department of Medical Parasitology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for making the diagnoses.