“amebiasis is a parasitic infection of the intestine caused by protozoa Entamoeba histolytica, or E. histolytica. Loose stools, abdominal cramps, and abdominal pain are included. However, most people with amoebiasis do not experience significant symptoms.”
Who Is At Risk For amebiasis (Amoebic Dysentery)?
Amebiasis (amoebic dysentery) is common in tropical countries with underdeveloped sanitation. The Merck Manual states that amebiasis is most common in the Indian subcontinent, parts of Central and South America, and parts of Africa. It’s relatively rare in the United States.
Persons at greatest risk for amebiasis include:
- People who have traveled to tropical locations with poor sanitation.
- Immigrants from tropical countries with poor sanitary conditions.
- People who live in institutions with poor sanitary conditions, such as prisons.
- Men who have sex with other men.
- People with compromised immune systems and other health conditions.
Risk factors for severe amebiasis include:
- Older or younger age.
- Recent travel to a tropical region.
- Use of corticosteroid medication to suppress the immune system.
In the United States, amebiasis is most common among those who live in institutions or people who have traveled to an area where amebiasis is common.
What are the symptoms of amebiasis?
Most people with this infection do not have symptoms. If symptoms occur, they are seen 7 to 28 days after being exposed to the parasite.
- Abdominal cramps.
- Diarrhea: Passage of 3 to 8 semi-formed stools per day or passage of soft stools with mucus and occasional blood.
- Excessive gas.
- Rectal pain while having a bowel movement (tenesmus).
- Unintentional weight loss.
Severe symptoms may include:
- Abdominal tenderness.
- Bloody stools, including passage of liquid stools with streaks of blood, the passage of 10 to 20 stools per day.
What causes amebiasis?
- By eating anything that has touched the feces of a person infected with E. histolytica.
- By swallowing anything, such as water or food, that is infected with E. histolytica.
- Transmission is also possible during anal intercourse, oral-anal sex, and colonic irrigation.
How can I prevent amebiasis?
Proper sanitation is the key to avoiding amebiasis. Follow this regimen when preparing & eating food:
- Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
- Avoid eating fruits/vegetables unless you wash and peel them yourself.
- Stick to bottled water and soft drinks.
- If you must drink water, boil it, or treat it with iodine.
- Avoid ice cubes or fountain drinks.
- Must Avoid milk, cheese, or other unpasteurized dairy products.
- Strictly Avoid food sold by street vendors.
As a general rule, thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after using the bathroom and before handling food.
What treatments are available for Amoebiasis?
Treatment for incomplete cases of amoebiasis usually involves a 10-day course of metronidazole (Flagyl), which you take as a capsule. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to control nausea if you need to.
If the parasite is present in your intestinal tissue, treatment should address not only the organism but also any damage to your infected organs. Surgery may be necessary if there are perforations in the colon or peritoneal tissues.