Amoebiasis also known by the name entamoebiasis or amebiasis is a parasite infection of the intestines that is caused by protozoan E. histolytica or Entamoeba histolytica. Person suffering from amebiasis may have various symptoms such as fever, diarrhoea, cramps and the likes.
The amoeba disease may affect liver, intestines or parts of the body as well. Although any one can suffer from this disease it is mostly common in case of those who live in developing country and do not have good sanitary conditions. It can also be found in people who have travelled to developing countries. Men who have sex with other men and also people with compromising immune systems and other health conditions can suffer from the disease.
Causes of Amebiasis
E. histolytica is a protozoan that mostly enters the human body when a person ingests cysts through water or food intake. Direct contact with feces matter is another way through which it can enter the body. Cysts are inactive form of parasite that can live for many months in the environment or soil where they were deposited in feces. The cysts which are very small are present in fertilizer, soil or water that has been contaminated with infected feces. While handling or preparing food, food handlers may transmit the cysts. Transmission of cysts is also possible during colonic irrigation or sex.
Once cysts enter the body they lodge in the digestive track and migrate to large intestine. There they can burrow into the colon or the intestinal wall and may cause colitis, diarrhoea and tissue destruction. After breaching the intestinal walls, the trophozites can enter the blood stream and then travel to various internal organs. This can result in various medical conditions such as:
Signs and Symptoms
As per records only one in 10 people who are infected with the parasite become sick. Amebiasis symptoms are mild and can include:
In case the parasites have invaded the lining of your intestine, it can result in amoebic dysentery. Amoebic dysentery is quite dangerous and can result in bloody and watery stools and severe stomach cramping. Also, if the parasite enters the blood stream, it can result in tissue destruction and abscesses in your heart, lungs, liver, brain and other organs.
There is no immunization available to protect against gastrointestinal amebiasis. Hence certain steps as below needs to be followed to avoid the infection:
Diagnosis of disease
Your doctor will enquire in detail about your recent trips to areas where the disease is common. He or she will also look for specific symptoms of amoebic infection especially symptoms such as loose stools, diarrhoea and the presence of mucus and blood in your bowel movements.
Methods of diagnosis include microscopy, stool culture, serology, antigen detection and molecular probes. Several blood tests can also be done. In some cases even after stool and blood test if the result is not clear than the doctor may examine the intestinal wall directly.
Treatment for amebiasis
There are certain drugs such as nitroimidazole drugs which are prescribed to the patient once they have been identified to be suffering from the disease. Amoebiasis drugs will help in killing amoebas in the blood, in liver abscesses and in the wall of the intestine. The medicine may be given to be taken directly by mouth or it may be given directly in the veins intravenously.
Steps to improve the health
The various steps that need to be followed so as to ensure better health are:
Important things to know
Amoebiasis treatment when done for few weeks will cure the disease. However, medication cannot keep you away from getting the infection again. If you continue to travel or live in areas where amoebas are found chances of repeated episodes of amebiasis is there. Children especially infants less than five years of age need to be kept under care as amebiasis can be fatal. Also, for men who have sex with men are also at risk of getting the disease through sexual contact.
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