Disease: Microsporidiosis

    Microsporidiosis facts

    • Microsporidiosis is a disease that is caused by small parasites called microsporidia.
    • Generally, microsporidia do not cause disease in healthy people but rather in people with immune system deficiency.
    • Microsporidiosis can cause chronic diarrhea, kidney disease, and infection of the sinuses and eyes.
    • Diagnosing microsporidiosis requires laboratory testing.
    • Treatment of microsporidiosis requires medications and supportive care.

    What is microsporidiosis? What causes the disease?

    Microsporidiosis is a disease caused by infection with microscopic organisms called microsporidia. Microsporidia are eukaryotic parasites that must live within other host cells in which they can produce infective spores. These spores cause microsporidiosis, a disease which is primarily seen in individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

    Microsporidiosis can cause infection of the intestine, lung, kidney, brain, sinuses, muscles, and eyes. Although there are over 1,200 species of microsporidia, the most prevalent pathogens (disease-causing agents) in humans include Enterocytozoon bieneusi, Encephalitozoon cuniculi, and Encephalitozoon intestinalis.

    How are microsporidia transmitted?

    Microsporidia spores are released from the stool and urine of infected animals. A number of animals, including insects, birds, and mammals, can serve as reservoirs of infection for microsporidia. These spores are then consumed or inhaled by humans.

    Once within a cell, the microsporidia develop and multiply, producing more spores. The infective spores are then released when the cell expands and bursts.

    What symptoms does microsporidiosis cause?

    Although microsporidiosis can occur in people with normal immune systems, it is very uncommon. The symptoms of microsporidiosis primarily occur in people with immune-system deficiency, such as HIV-infected individuals and organ-transplant recipients. Microsporidiosis can cause intestinal, lung, kidney, brain, sinus, muscle, or eye disease.

    Intestinal symptoms that are caused by microsporidia infection include chronic diarrhea, wasting, malabsorption, and gallbladder disease. In patients with AIDS, the chronic diarrhea may be extremely debilitating and carries a significant mortality risk. The majority of cases of intestinal microsporidiosis in AIDS patients are caused by Enterocytozoon bieneusi.

    Lung symptoms may include a cough and difficult, labored breathing. A chest X-ray may show signs of inflammation, fluid, or cavities in the lungs.

    Microsporidiosis can cause infection in the urinary tract, kidney failure, bladder inflammation, and bowel perforation. Microsporidia can also spread throughout the body to cause inflammation in the brain, pancreas, sinuses, and muscle tissue.

    Eye infection with microsporidia can cause inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva (keratoconjunctivitis). Symptoms of ocular microsporidiosis may include eye pain, eye redness, or blurry vision.

    How is microsporidiosis diagnosed?

    There are several tests available to diagnose microsporidia infection. Microscopic examination of stained samples of body fluids, primarily fecal samples, allows for rapid diagnosis, although the exact species of microsporidia may not be identified. Urine samples can also be used to detect spores when the kidney and/or bladder are involved.

    A powerful microscope, called a transmission electron microscope, is needed to identify the species of microsporidia. However, this form of testing is expensive, and it is not available for routine use in all laboratories.

    Other methods, such as immunofluorescence assays and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, can also identify microsporidia infection in the research-laboratory setting.

    Finally, blood tests and imaging studies can also assist in detecting microsporidiosis.

    What symptoms does microsporidiosis cause?

    Although microsporidiosis can occur in people with normal immune systems, it is very uncommon. The symptoms of microsporidiosis primarily occur in people with immune-system deficiency, such as HIV-infected individuals and organ-transplant recipients. Microsporidiosis can cause intestinal, lung, kidney, brain, sinus, muscle, or eye disease.

    Intestinal symptoms that are caused by microsporidia infection include chronic diarrhea, wasting, malabsorption, and gallbladder disease. In patients with AIDS, the chronic diarrhea may be extremely debilitating and carries a significant mortality risk. The majority of cases of intestinal microsporidiosis in AIDS patients are caused by Enterocytozoon bieneusi.

    Lung symptoms may include a cough and difficult, labored breathing. A chest X-ray may show signs of inflammation, fluid, or cavities in the lungs.

    Microsporidiosis can cause infection in the urinary tract, kidney failure, bladder inflammation, and bowel perforation. Microsporidia can also spread throughout the body to cause inflammation in the brain, pancreas, sinuses, and muscle tissue.

    Eye infection with microsporidia can cause inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva (keratoconjunctivitis). Symptoms of ocular microsporidiosis may include eye pain, eye redness, or blurry vision.

    How is microsporidiosis diagnosed?

    There are several tests available to diagnose microsporidia infection. Microscopic examination of stained samples of body fluids, primarily fecal samples, allows for rapid diagnosis, although the exact species of microsporidia may not be identified. Urine samples can also be used to detect spores when the kidney and/or bladder are involved.

    A powerful microscope, called a transmission electron microscope, is needed to identify the species of microsporidia. However, this form of testing is expensive, and it is not available for routine use in all laboratories.

    Other methods, such as immunofluorescence assays and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, can also identify microsporidia infection in the research-laboratory setting.

    Finally, blood tests and imaging studies can also assist in detecting microsporidiosis.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

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