Dientamoeba fragilis masquerading as allergic colitis

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1998 Jan;26(1):16-20. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199801000-00003.


Background: Dientamoeba fragilis is a rare cause of chronic infectious diarrhea and colitis in children.

Methods: Review of the clinical manifestations, diagnostic methods, and clinical course of D. fragilis infection in our hospital.

Results: Eleven pediatric patients are discussed, seven of whom had a history of recent travel. Clinical manifestations of infectious diarrhea included anorexia, intermittent vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, ranging from 1 to 100 weeks in duration. Peripheral eosinophilia was present in seven patients. One patient with well-documented bovine protein allergy had intermittent episodes of diarrhea and abdominal pain, despite an appropriate elimination diet. Eosinophilic colitis documented by colonoscopy, was due to D. fragilis. Metronidazole was effective in treating five patients, and iodoquinol was effective in treating four others.

Conclusions: D. fragilis should be included in the differential diagnosis of chronic diarrhea and eosinophilic colitis. The identification of this pathogen requires clinical awareness of epidemiologic risk factors and presenting complaints, as well as the laboratory staining procedures essential to its proper identification.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Colitis / immunology
  • Colitis / parasitology*
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Colon / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diarrhea / parasitology
  • Dientamoebiasis / diagnosis*
  • Eosinophils / pathology
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Milk Hypersensitivity