May 26, 2010
May 26 - Balantidium coli
It is thought that Balantidium coli is the only ciliate (think Paramecium) that is parasitic in people (causing the disease Balantidiasis), however in humans, these protozoans are zoonotic, with pigs as the primary reservoirs. To our porcine friends, the ciliates appear to not cause symptoms, but humans can suffer severe GI distress if they become infected by ingesting contaminated water or food. This parasite has been found worldwide, but is not a common pathogen of humans, except in the Philippines. Recent work identified the same ciliate in several other kinds of mammals including other primates and rodents, so a better epidemiological understanding is clearly in order.