Clinical Characteristics of Seven Cases of Diarrhea Associated with a Novel Acid-Fast Organism in the Stool

Rebecca M. Wurtz, Frank E. Kocka, Caryn S. Peters, C. Michael Weldon-Linne, Alex Kuritza, Peggy Yungbluth

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In the last 4 years, we have identified an acid-fast, auto fluorescent organism in the stool of seven patients with diarrhea. The organism was identified as a cyanobacterium-like organism by the Centers for Disease Control (Atlanta) and as a coccidian by researchers in Peru and at the University of Arizona (Tucson). We present reports on the seven cases and a review of the literature. Three patients were known to be seropositive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). All complained of watery diarrhea that had begun 3 days to 8 months before presentation. Colonoscopy in two patients showed a normal mucosal pattern; a biopsy for one of these patients showed chronic nonspecific inflammation of the colon. Examination of stool for ova and parasites revealed multiple oval and round nonrefractile organisms with well-defined walls that resembled large cryptosporidia; they measured 8–9 μmin diameter. These organisms did not stain by Giemsa or gram methods but were acid-fast by Kinyoun carbolfuchsin and Ziehl-Neelsen stains. The organisms fluoresced as blue under ultraviolet light. In the immunocompetent patients, diarrhea lasted an average of 19 days and resolved spontaneously. Diarrhea persisted in the HIV-seropositive patients. The clinical course and organism resembled those reported for travelers and HIV-seropositive patients. This organism may represent a newly identified cause of watery diarrhea in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-138
Number of pages3
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993

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