Amoebic Dysentery

(Amebiasis)
  • Definition

    Amoebic dysentery is an intestinal illness caused by a parasite and associated with stomach pain, bloody stools, and fever.
  • Causes

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

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

    Symptoms may include:
    • Loose or watery stools
    • Bloody stools
    • Nausea
    • Weight loss
    • Stomach pain
    • Fever
    • Pain on your right, upper side
  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    Your doctor may 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. This can be done with:
    • Ultrasound
    • CT scan
  • 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. Probiotics may also be helpful.
    Several antibiotics are available to treat amoebic dysentery. Probiotics may also be helpful.
  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chances of getting 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.
  • 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: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated May 31, 2013. Accessed August 7, 2013.

    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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