Amebiasis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments. In addition, Amebiasis is a disease caused by the parasite Entamoeba histolytica. This can affect anyone, although it is more common in people who live in tropical areas with poor sanitary conditions.
Diagnosis can be difficult because other parasites can look very similar to E. histolytica when viewed under a microscope. Infected people do not always get sick. If your doctor determines that you are infected and need treatment, medication is available.
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Causes of Amebiasis?
Amebiasis is caused by the parasite Entamoeba histolytica, which enters the body mainly through ingestion of contaminated food or water. This parasite can also enter the body through direct contact with fecal matter.
Entamoeba histolytica releases cysts, which are a relatively inactive form of the parasite and can live for several months in the environment in which they were deposited, usually in feces, soil, and water. They can also be transmitted by food handlers and through unprotected sex.
Risk factors for severe amoebiasis include:
- alcohol use
- Older or younger age
- Recent trip to a tropical region
- Use of corticosteroid medications to suppress the immune system
What are the symptoms of Amebiasis?
When symptoms do occur, they tend to appear one to four weeks after ingesting the cysts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 10 to 20 percent of people who have Amebiasis get sick from it. Symptoms at this stage tend to be mild and include loose stools and stomach cramps.
If the parasite invades the lining of the intestine, it can produce amoebic dysentery. Amoebic dysentery is a more dangerous form of the disease with frequent watery, bloody stools and severe cramping in the stomach.
If the parasite enters your bloodstream, it can end up in your liver, heart, lung, brain , or other organs, where it causes tissue destruction and abscesses. The liver is a frequent destination for the parasite . Symptoms of amoebic liver disease include fever and tenderness in the upper right part of your torso.
What are the treatments for Amebiasis?
Treatment for uncomplicated cases of Amebiasis usually consists of a 10-day course of metronidazole (Flagyl) given by mouth. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to control nausea if you need to.
If the parasite is present in intestinal tissues, treatment must address not only the organism but also any damage to its infected organs. Surgery may be necessary if the colon or peritoneal tissues have perforations.