Amoebiasis is also called as amebic dysentery. It is an intestinal illness caused by a parasite, Entamoeba histolytica. This parasite lives in the intestines and produces eggs (cysts) which are passed from the body in the stool.

Symptoms of Amoebiasis

An individual infected with the histolytica parasite may have mild or severe symptoms or no symptoms at all. Usually, about 1 in 10 people who are infected with the parasite becomes sick from the infection.

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea that may include blood or mucus with periods of constipation
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Chills

Causes of Amoebiasis

Anyone can get amoebiasis, but it occurs in people who live in or have visited areas of the world with poor sanitary conditions. Stool from infected people may contaminate water or food. Amoebiasis is also found in people living in institutions that have poor sanitary conditions. Homosexual men can become infected with the parasite and may or may not have symptoms.

A person becomes infected with E. histolytica by swallowing cysts of the parasite. This can occur by eating food which has been prepared by an infected person who has poor personal hygiene, drinking contaminated water, eating food washed in contaminated water, or by oral-anal sexual contact with a person infected with E. histolytica.

Treatment of Amoebiasis

Consult the Medical Letter or Pediatric Red Book for specific drugs and dosages. Only E. histolytica requires treatment, but since most laboratories do not perform the test to distinguish it from E. dispar, treatment is commonly given to all persons with cysts or trophozoites of E. histolytica /dispar complex. Symptomatic amebiasis should be treated with a systemically-active compound such as metronidazole, followed by a luminal amebicide to eliminate any surviving organisms in the colon. Metronidazole is not recommended for use during the first trimester of pregnancy. Asymptomatic carriers should be treated with a luminal amebicide in order to reduce the risk of transmission and protect the patient from symptomatic amebiasis.

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