Public Health Interventions

 

Like many diseases transmitted by a fecal-oral route, Balantidiasis can be prevented by improved hygiene practices, water sanitation, and proper disposal of fecal material.  In the specific case of Balantidium coli infection, certain steps can be taken.

 

 

First, since pigs are the main animal reservoir and a significant source of Balantidium coli cysts, barriers between swine and humans should be established.  Pig habitat should be separated from human habitation and demarcated by fencing.  If possible, pigs should drink from a separate water source than humans.

 

 

Second, clean water is imperative.  Public health measures that create potable water sources would greatly help in the case of Balantidiasis as well as other parasitic infections that affect the same impoverished populations.  In the absence of water cleaning facilities, communities should be taught to boil water and to seek water from sources far from pig habitation and human toilets.

 

 

Third, sewage disposal and trash removal is crucial.  Without proper disposal of human waste and animal waste, infective Balantidium coli can persist in the near environment, contaminate the water supply, and perpetuate transmission and infection.

 

 

Fourth, personal hygiene is important, but is not possible if the water used to wash hands is still contaminated with Balantidium coli cysts.  Hands should be thoroughly washed after using the toilet, after handling pigs or their excreta, before cooking, and before eating.  Education of these hygienic practices must be conducted in schools and communities.  Boiling water and water sanitation once again are significant.

 

 

Finally, asymptomatic carriers should be treated with antibiotics along with symptomatic patients.  Asymptomatic carriers still release infective cysts in their feces, and treating these individuals helps to halt further transmission of the protozoa.

 

 

On a larger scale, efforts aimed at improving the overall health of a population would decrease the likelihood of Balantidiasis.  Individuals are more likely to have severe infections of Balantidium coli if they are malnourished, infected with other parasites, suffer from chronic gastrointestinal problems, or have compromised immune systems.  If these underlying conditions can be improved, then infection with Balantidium coli is likely to decrease.

 

 

These interventions are difficult to implement since the communities most likely to be affected by Balantidium coli are frequently indigent, poorly educated, and without healthy living conditions.  Nevertheless, it is important to aim for these interventions because the benefits of elevating the health profile and raising the standard of living of a community are far-reaching.

 

Introduction

 

The Parasite

Morphology

Life Cycle

Transmission

Animal Reservoirs

Clinical Presentation

 

Diagnosis

Treatment

Epidemiology

Public Health Interventions

 

Glossary of terms

References and links