Microsporidiosis

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

How do health-care professionals diagnose microsporidiosis?

There are several tests available to diagnose microsporidia infection. Microscopic examination of stained samples of body fluids, primarily fecal samples, allows for rapid diagnosis, although the exact species of microsporidia may not be identified. Urine samples can also be used to detect spores when the kidney and/or bladder are involved.

A powerful microscope, called a transmission electron microscope, is needed to identify the exact species of microsporidia. However, this form of testing is expensive, and it is not available for routine use in all laboratories.

Other methods, such as immunofluorescence assays and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, can also identify microsporidia infection in the research-laboratory setting.

Finally, blood tests and imaging studies can also assist in detecting microsporidiosis.

What types of specialists treat microsporidiosis?

Microsporidiosis is generally treated primarily by an infectious-disease specialist. Other specialists may be consulted depending on the site of infection, such as an ophthalmologist for eye involvement.

What is the treatment for microsporidiosis?

The treatment of microsporidiosis is generally achieved with medications and supportive care. Depending on the site of infection and the microsporidia species involved, different medications are utilized. The most commonly used medications for microsporidiosis include albendazole (Albenza) and fumagillin.

For patients with diarrhea and dehydration, intravenous fluid administration and electrolyte repletion may be necessary. Dietary and nutritional regimens may also assist with chronic diarrhea. Finally, improvement of immune system function with antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected individuals may also lead to improvement of symptoms.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/22/2016

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