Amoebic Dysentery

(Amebiasis)

Definition

Amoebic dysentery is an intestinal illness.

Causes

Amoebic dysentery is caused by a specific parasite. You may develop amoebic dysentery if you:
  • Put something in your mouth that has touched the stool of an infected person.
  • Swallow water or food that has been contaminated with the parasite.
  • Touch cysts (eggs) from contaminated surfaces and bring them to your mouth
Digestive Pathway
Digestive pathway
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Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of amoebic dysentery include:
  • Living in or traveling to developing countries, places that have poor sanitary conditions, or tropical or subtropical areas
  • Living in institutions with poor sanitary conditions
  • Household contact with infected person
  • Having anal sexual intercourse

Symptoms

Most people with the parasite do not have symptoms. Symptoms may include:
  • Loose /watery stools or constipation
  • Bloody stools
  • Constant feeling you need to move your bowels
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Pain on your right, upper side (if you have the parasite in your liver)

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.Your doctor will need tests of your bodily fluids and waste products. This can be done with:
  • Blood tests
  • Stool samples
Images may need to be taken of your bodily structures, especially your liver. This can be done with:

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

Medications

Several antibiotics are available to treat amoebic dysentery or liver infection. Probiotics may also be helpful to reduce the symptoms.

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Prevention

To help reduce your chances amoebic dysentery, take the following steps when traveling to a country that has poor sanitary conditions:
  • Drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled for at least one minute
  • Do not eat fresh fruit or vegetables that you do not peel yourself
  • Do not eat or drink unpasteurized milk, cheese, or dairy products
  • Do not eat or drink anything sold by street vendors
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Use hand sanitizers if soap and water are not available.
  • People carrying the parasite may need to be treated to avoid spreading it to others.

RESOURCES

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
http://www.niaid.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References

Amebiasis (amoebic dysentery). New York State Department of Health website. Available at: http://www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/amebiasis/fact%5Fsheet.htm. Updated October 2011. Accessed August 7, 2013.

Amebiasis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 31, 2013. Accessed June 16, 2014.

Parasites–amebiasis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/amebiasis/index.html. Updated November 2, 2010. Accessed August 7, 2013.

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