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Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Diseases
Volume 2009, Article ID 547090, 8 pages
Review Article

Rapid Diagnosis of Intestinal Parasitic Protozoa, with a Focus on Entamoeba histolytica

1University of Virginia, Charlottesville, P.O. Box 801340, VA 22908-1340, USA
2Central Department of Microbiology, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal
3Infectious Diseases and International Health, University of Virginia, MR4 Building, Health System, Charlottesville, VA 22908-1340, USA

Received 28 January 2009; Accepted 30 March 2009

Academic Editor: Herbert B. Tanowitz

Copyright © 2009 Anjana Singh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Entamoeba histolytica is an invasive intestinal pathogenic parasitic protozoan that causes amebiasis. It must be distinguished from Entamoeba dispar and E. moshkovskii, nonpathogenic commensal parasites of the human gut lumen that are morphologically identical to E. histolytica. Detection of specific E. histolytica antigens in stools is a fast, sensitive technique that should be considered as the method of choice. Stool real-time PCR is a highly sensitive and specific technique but its high cost make it unsuitable for use in endemic areas where there are economic constraints. Serology is an important component of the diagnosis of intestinal and especially extraintestinal amebiasis as it is a sensitive test that complements the detection of the parasite antigens or DNA. Circulating Gal/GalNac lectin antigens can be detected in the serum of patients with untreated amoebic liver abscess. On the horizon are multiplex real-time PCR assays which permit the identification of multiple enteropathogens with high sensitivity and specificity.