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Amoebiasis is a infectious disease which is mainly caused by the protozoan Entameoba histolytic. This is usually contracted by ingesting water or food contaminated by amoebic cysts. Amoebiasis occurs when the parasites are taken in by mouth. People with amoebiasis have Entamoeba hisolytica parasites in their faeces. Amoebiasis can affect people living anywhere in the world, but is most common where living conditions are crowded or there is poor hygiene and sanitation.

Amoebiasis is common in parts of Africa, Central America, South America, India and Southeast Asia. The parasite can cause ulcers to form in the intestine resulting in amoebic dysentery. Under these circumstances the diarrhoea becomes watery and bloody, the abdominal pain becomes more severe, and fever develops. Amoebiasis occurs when Entamoeba histolytica parasites are taken in by mouth and the most common way this happens is by person-to-person spread.

Amoebiasis is an intestinal parasitic illness occurs by eating food or drinking water contaminated with faeces, containing the parasite, Entamoeba histolytica. About 90% of infections are asymptomatic, and the remaining 10% produce a spectrum of clinical syndromes ranging from dysentery to abscesses of the liver or other organs. The most common type of amoebic infection is asymptomatic cyst passage. Even if infected, some are only carriers and do not suffer from it. This shows that the ultimate cause of suffering is hidden than the exposed causative factor i.e. amoeba. Sometimes sigmoidoscopy is done, which is a procedure in which the doctor uses a lighted, flexible tube to look inside the lower part of the colon (large intestine). Most patients with liver abscess are febrile and have right-upper-quadrant pain, which may be dull or pleuritic in nature and radiate to the shoulder.

Amoebiasis can also be spread by:

  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Eating contaminated raw vegetables and fruit
  • Unprotected oral-anal contact

Causes of Amoebiasis

Many factors affect Amoebiasis, some of the common causes are listed below:

  • The infection spreads when infected people do not dispose of their faeces in a sanitary manner or do not wash their hands properly after going to the toilet.
  • Contaminated hands can then spread the parasites to food that may be eaten by other people and surfaces that may be touched by other people.
  • If the parasite spreads from the bowel then it may go to the liver. Here it may cause hepatitis and a liver abscess.
  • Amoebiasis is especially common in parts of the world where human faeces are used as fertiliser and is more likely to affect people who live or have travelled in developing countries, where sanitation and hygiene is poor.
  • If it invades the liver, it causes formation of the typical anchovy paste like pus. Asymptomatic carriers pass cysts in the faeces.

What are the symptom of Amoebiasis ?

The most common symptoms of amoebiasis are diarrhoea (which may contain blood), stomach cramps and fever. Rarely, amoebiasis can cause an abscess (infection) in the liver. After infection, it may take a few days, several months or even years before you become ill but it is usually about two or four weeks. To trace the cause of the illness, it is necessary to know what you ate and drank and where you travelled in the weeks before you became ill. In majority of cases, there present very little symptom or no symptoms. But there are many sign and symptoms by which we can detect the disease, some are :

  • vague gastrointestinal distress,
  • high grade fever, severe abdominal pain and profuse diarrhoea occurs in children and in patients receiving steroids.
  • severe diarrhoea that contains blood or mucus,
  • severe stomach pain ,
  • dysentery (with blood and mucus).
  • Poor appetite or fear of food due to abdominal pain and loose stools
  • Sometimes allergic reactions can occur throughout the body, due to release of toxic substances or dead parasites inside the intestines
  • Point tenderness over the liver and right-sided pleural effusion are common. Jaundice is rare.

Sign, tests and diagnosis of Amoebiasis

Anyone who develops Amoebiasis should see a doctor as soon as possible and ensure that they tell the doctor they have been travelling in the tropics, as amoebic dysentery does not normally occur in the UK. In the presence of the classic symptom of Amoebiasis, the diagnosis can often be made by means of a stool analysis.

Amoebiasis Treatment

Amoebiasis is treated with metronidazole. Some effective treatment measures are as follows:

  • An anti-diarrhoeal medication may also be prescribed. Metronidazole can produce a metallic taste in the mouth and may give rise to nausea. Alcoholic drinks must be avoided while taking metronidazole .
  • Metronidazole , or a related drug such a tinidazole , is used to destroy amebae that have invaded tissue.
  • Children with amoebiasis should not attend school while they are infected.
  • If amoebiasis causes an abscess on your liver or other organs and the abscess does not respond to antibiotics , it may need to be drained surgically. A small rubber tube called a catheter will be inserted into the abscess to drain it.
  • Usually, in Allopathy, a course of anti-protozoal (Metronidazole) is given for eliminating the amoebic trophozites. This will work very temporarily, i.e. till its eggs or cysts get hatched.

Prevention Tips

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot running water for at least 10 seconds after using the toilet or changing a baby's diaper.
  • vegetables are thoroughly washed and cooked.
  • The internal temperature of reheated food reaches at least 75 degrees Celsius.
  • Avoid sharing towels or face washers.
  • Drink only packaged drinks, boiled water or chlorinated and filtered water.
  • Avoid drinks containing ice.


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