Amoebiasis is an infection caused by an amoeba, the Entamoeba hystolitica. Other amoeba species includes:
· Entamoeba dispar
· Entamoeba hartmanni
· Entamoeba moshkovskii
· Entamoeba coli
· Dientamoeba fragilis
· Iodamoeba butschlii
· Endolimax nana
The parasites mentioned above don’t cause the disease except for Dientamoeba.
Amoebiasis is a gastrointestinal infection which may or may not show any signs and symptoms and it may remain hidden in the infected person for many years. Amoebiasis is the cause of 70,000 deaths worldwide. Symptoms vary from mild diarrhea to a bloody and mucus filled dysentery. There is a severe form of amoebiasis known as fulminant or invasive amoebiasis which occurs in two forms.
Intestinal lining invasion causes amoebic colitis and amoebic dysentery. The parasite may reach the different parts of the body if the parasite has invaded the bloodstream. Frequently, it affects the liver leading to amoebic liver abscesses. Liver abscess may occur without the occurrence of amoebic dysentery. Even without symptoms, the infected person is still a carrier, enabling him to spread the disease to persons with poor personal hygiene. Onset of symptoms is similar with bacillary dysentery. Amoebiasis is not always bacterial therefore, treatments may differ. Bacterial or not, amoebiasis can be prevented with good sanitary practices.
Amoebiasis is transmitted through oral-fecal route or by anal-oral route. It can also transmit through indirect transmission by having contact with contaminated hands. The spread of infection is through ingesting the parasite in a cyst form found in feces. Trophozoites or non-cyst amoeba die after leaving the body but it can be present in stool, but it is rarely a cause of new infection.
Amoebiasis is transmitted by contaminated water and food. Therefore, this disease is endemic in regions with limited sanitation systems like certain countries such as Central America, Mexico, South Asia, Western South America, and southern and western Africa.
Traveller’s diarrhea and amoebic dysentery should not be mistaken. They are different but both of them exist in certain regions mentioned above. Traveller’s diarrhea is bacterial and viral in nature while dysentery amoeba is caused by a parasite.
Amoebiasis transmission prevention includes:
· Thoroughly washing of hands with soap and running water for 10 seconds after toilet use or after changing the diaper of the baby and before food handling.
· Toilets and bathrooms should be cleaned regularly and by paying attention mostly on toilet seats.
· Avoid sharing of face washers and towels.
Infection prevention includes:
· Avoiding of raw vegetables especially in endemic regions because it may be fertilized with the use of human feces.
· Boiling of water.
· Avoiding of street foods especially in places where in one container for sauces is shared.
· Responsible sewage disposal and good sanitary practices are essential in preventing infection caused by E. hystolytica.
Infection of Entamoeba hystolytica occurs in the intestine and liver. Depending on the location, the diseases are treated separately, one on each location. Amoebiasis is treated with antiamoebic drugs such as amoebicides or amebicides.