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Microsporidiosis in Lima Peru: Isolation, genotyping and in vivo propagation of Enterocytozoon bieneusi

Link to faculty eProfessional résumé

Dr. Eric N Villegas

Adj Asst Professor A&S Biological Sciences
McMicken College of Arts and Sciences
eric.villegas@uc.edu
+1 (513) 569-7017

The Microsporidia species, Enterocytozoon bieneusi, is a human pathogen that can cause gastrointestinal illnesses in healthy and immunocompromised individuals. Infection with this fungus typically occurs by ingesting E. bieneusi spore-contaminated food or water. Although there have been well documented cases of food-associated microsporidiosis outbreaks, very little is known about the incidence of waterborne disease outbreaks caused by E. bieneusi. This is primarily due to the lack of sensitive diagnostic tools for detecting E. bieneusi in water.

One major reason for the lack of diagnostic tools for detecting this pathogen in water is the lack of available E. bieneusi spores for research studies. To date, E. bieneusi isolates can only infect and grow in humans. This prevents scientists from propagating large quantities of spores in non-human laboratory models of infections. Recently, domesticated guinea pigs in Lima, Peru have been found to also be infected with E. bieneusi. This project will focus on the importance of guinea pigs as reservoirs of this disease as well as possible non-human sources of infectious E. bieneusi spores for laboratory investigations.

Project commenced on August 22, 2007

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