Balantidium coli is a ciliate parasite that resides in the large intestines of mammals. It is common in pigs around the world. It can infect humans but there are few cases of infection reported. When it does infect humans, ulcers can be caused by the parasite.
The infective cyst stage is ingested by a human or other mammal. The parasite excysts in the small intestine and multiplies by transverse binary fission. It is a trophozoite (the feeding stage of the parasite) in the lumen of the colon. From here, the parasite can either remain in the colon and multiply or invade the colon wall and multiply. The trophozoites then return to the colon. Some encyst and both the cysts and the trophozoites are expelled into the external environment through the mammal's feces. The trophozoites disintegrate and the cysts can be ingested once again by another mammal.
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