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They May Look Alike, But Treat Parasites Differently: Doctor

Tropical areas with poor sanitary conditions can be a hotbed for parasites and other diseases.

That includes amebiasis, whose diagnosis can be tricky, Taing Tek Hong, a Florida-based doctor said Thursday, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

In the United States, amebiasis is often found in travelers to tropical areas, but it can also be found in residents of such areas.

It can be hard to detect because even under a microscope, the parasite looks similar to others, Taing Tek Hong said.

These parasites are found in human or animal stool, infected food, or water, lakes, ponds and streams. The stool of a person with intestinal parasites is contagious as long as infection lasts, possibly for years after symptoms cease, he said.

Amebiasis may cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, or blood in the stool. It also may invade the liver, lung, brain, or other organs.

Taing Tek Hong said the common symptoms of parasites in humans are diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating, mucus after bowel movement, weight loss, pale skin, fatigue, and excessive hunger.

Intestinal parasites are usually successfully treated, but may reoccur if the source of infection still exists.

Amebiasis can be treated with metronidazole for colitis or liver abscesses, or with iodoquinol, paromomycin and diloxanide for asymptomatic carries, he said.

Other parasites (and their cures ) include: giardiasis (metronidazole, nitazoxanide or paromomycin, the latter for pregnant women); cryptosporidosis (nitazoxanide); hookworm (albendazole, mebendazole, pyrantel pamoate); strongyloidiasis (ivermectin, thiobendazole); and schistosomiasis (praziquantel, oxamniquine).

Traveler's diarrhea can be treated with ciprofloxacin, 500 mg twice daily for three days, or xifaxan (rifaximin), 200 mg three times daily for three days.