Amoebiasis

Amoebiasis, a common infection, is found in the gastro-intestinal tract of humans. Notably, this infection is primarily seen in tropical places like Africa, South East Asia, West Asia, and South America.

Before moving on to amoebiasis treatment and prevention, it is important to know about the cause and symptoms of it.

A parasite is an organism that lives in, or on another organism. Either for food or shelter, parasites use the host body without contributing in any way to its host. Fungi, worms, and protozoa can be human parasites.

Amoebiasis Definition

Amoebiasis is a parasitic intestinal infectious disease, transmitted through contaminated food and water. Amoebiasis is caused by a protozoa entamoeba histolytica. This parasite is a unicellular organism, and it can infect animals as well as humans. 

This illness is also known as amebic dysentery. Dysentery is a type of inflammation in the intestine. Thus, amoebiasis meaning is an infection by amoebas that majorly causes dysentery.

Amoebiasis Life Cycle

As a parasite, E. histolytica needs a host body for its life cycle. By ingesting contaminated food and water, these parasites enter the host body. These can survive as cysts for months in water or soil that comes in contact with infected stool. However, you must note that this is the inactive form of these parasites.

After entering the small intestine, these cysts release their active form called trophozoites. Then, these parasites start reproducing and migrating towards the large intestine. The trophozoites burrow into the colon or intestine wall, which can cause colitis, bloody diarrhoea, etc.

Nonetheless, the cysts come back to the environment through the faeces of infected animals or humans.

Causes and Symptoms of Amoebiasis

Following is a detailed analysis of amoeba causes and symptoms.

Causes

From the earlier discussion, it can be noted that the cause of amoebiasis is a parasite called entamoeba histolytica. Around 10-20% of infected organisms become sick with the illness caused by this parasite. There are several modes of transmission of amoebiasis in human bodies.

  • Amoebiasis is majorly found in people with poor sanitary and hygiene practices. For instance, people who do not wash and dry hands after using toilets can spread this infection. Without proper sanitation, preparing food can also be the cause of this infection. 

  • The faeces of infected people can contaminate food and water. By ingesting this water or food, this parasite can enter the human body and start multiplying in the intestine. Notably, amoebiasis can be transmitted very rapidly.

  • By oral-rectal sexual contact, majorly in homosexual males, this infection can pass on. 

  • Insects like cockroach, fly, etc. can transmit amoebiasis.

Symptoms

After 1-4 weeks of ingestion of these cysts, people can witness symptoms. These weeks are known as the incubation period of the disease. Infected individuals may experience mild to moderate to even severe symptoms. This infection can also have no symptoms at all.

  • Dysentery

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort

  • Diarrhoea with mucus or blood, including periods of constipation.

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Occasional fever

  • Chills

  • Weight loss

Amoebiasis Diagnosis

Amoebiasis can be diagnosed after examining the stools of infected individuals. By screening faeces for several days, the presence of cysts can be confirmed under a microscope. A liver function test may also be required to check whether the amoeba did any damage to the liver.

However, in the case of amoebic liver abscess, the fluid from liver abscess needs to be examined. By penetrating a needle through the skin, the lesion fluid can be drawn out and checked. A lesion in the liver is a severe case of amoebiasis.

The presence of E. histolytica in the colon can be diagnosed by colonoscopy. 

Amoebiasis Treatment

The symptomatic amoebiasis treatment is given by a systemically-active drug called metronidazole. A treatment of luminal amoebicide is also needed to eliminate any living organisms inside the colon. Paromomycin is the medicine used for treating luminal infection. 

Asymptomatic patients are treated with luminal amoebicide to bring down the transmission risk.

Prevention of Amoebiasis

Amoebiasis can be prevented by taking the following measures-

  • Washing vegetables and fruits thoroughly.

  • Peeling fruits and boiling vegetables before eating.

  • Improving the water supply by filtration inside the house. Using bottled water while outside.

  • Avoiding foods from unhygienic places and street vendors.

  • Avoiding fountain drinks and ice cubes.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is amoebiasis?

Amoebiasis is an intestinal infection caused by a parasite entamoeba histolytica.

2. What is the cure for amoebiasis?

For symptomatic and invasive disease, metronidazole is the medicine. Paromomycin is used for non-invasive amoebiasis treatment like curing a luminal infection.

3. How long does it take to cure amoebiasis?

Amoebiasis can be cured with proper medication within 2-3 weeks.