Amoebiasis is an infection of the intestine, liver, or other tissues. It is characterized by frequent, loose stools flecked with blood and mucus.Most of the cases are find in the U.S. and other developed countries travelers who have recently returned from developing tropical or subtropical countries. About 5,000 to 10,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. and among leading to about 20 deaths annually. In case of intestinal amoebiasis since high percentages of the population may be cyst carriers there is little point in treating cyst carriers found by chance in an endemic region. In any case, 90-95% of these people are infected with the non-pathogenic Entamoeba dispar. If this is nevertheless desired diloxanide furoate (Furamide®) is indicated. Iodoquinol (Intetrix®) and paromomycin (Gabbroral®, Humatin®) can be used.
It is caused by the parasite Entamoeba histolytica. People get amebiasis when they swallow Entamoeba histolytica cysts. Amebiasis is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries where standards of public hygiene and sanitation may be low. It can also spread to other organs like the liver, lungs, and brain by invading the venous system of the intestines.
This can happen due to:
- Putting anything into the mouth that has touched the stool of an infected person
- Swallowing water or food that has been contaminated with Entamoeba histolytica
- Touching and bringing to the mouth cysts picked up from surfaces contaminated with Entamoeba histolytica.
On average, about one in 10 people who are infected with E. histolytica becomes sick from the infection. Amebic dysentery is a severe form of amebiasis associated with stomach pain, bloody stools, and fever. Rarely, E. histolytica invades the liver and forms an abscess. The time interval between the parasite's entry into the body and the appearance of the first symptoms ranges from a few days to a few weeks usually varies from two to four weeks. In rare cases, the parasite spreads outside the intestine to the liver and forms an abscess. Even less commonly, it spreads to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or brain.
Some strains of amebae are harmless but others, for unknown reasons, invade the intestinal wall, causing mucus secretion into the intestines and diarrhea - an illness called amebic dysentery.
A blood test is available but is recommended only if the patient's health-care provider thinks that the infection has invaded the wall of the intestines or some other organ, such as the liver. Blood tests might be positive if a person had an amebic infection in the past.
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.
Proper handwashing helps prevent the spread of amoebiasis. While travelling avoid eating uncooked foods, particularly vegetables and fruit which cannot be peeled before eating in order to prevent Amoebiasis.