A total of 77 mentally retarde male inpatients residing in a psychiatric institution in northern Italy were screened for the presence of stool parasites, Entamoeba histolytica particularly. Parasitological stool examination showed Entamoeba spp. (E. histolytica and/or E. dispar) in 26 cases (33.7%). In vitro culture on Robinson's medium was positive in 16 cases (61.1%); in 11 cases we could stabilize and clone the isolates and proceed to electrophoretic assays. In all cases, patterns of pathogenic zymodemes were found (zymodeme II, 3 isolates; zymodeme XII, 4 isolates; zymodeme XIV, 4 isolates). All isolates were therefore identified as E. histolytica.
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