Balantidiasis is a rare infection caused by the parasite, Balantidium coli. The parasite can be found in moist or aquatic areas and can be transmitted through contaminated food or water. The parasite may be found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans, pigs and other animals without causing disease or illness. In people with other serious illnesses that weaken the immune system, the parasite may cause frequent diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain or a perforated colon (a hole in the stomach, bowel or intestines causing a medical emergency).
Preventative measures should be taken when traveling to areas where this infection or parasite is common (endemic) such as the Philippines. The disease is mostly problematic in developing countries where food and water sources are more likely to be contaminated. Preventative measures include frequent hand washing, purifing drinking water, washing all fruits and vegetables with clean water before eating or cooking, and avoiding close contact with infected persons. Diagnosis should be suspected based on symptoms and a history of travel to an area where Balantidiasis is common and can be confirmed through a stool sample. Balantidiasis can be treated with certain medications. You should talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms and have traveled to an area where you may have been exposed.