Amoebiasis a common infection among children, can also occur in people in their adult age. It is a type of gastroenteritis (gastro) caused by a tiny parasite, Entamoeba histolytica, which infects the bowel. The bowel movement is affected by this parasite.
About 10 percent of the world's population is infected with E.Histolytica.
It has a very high incidence in tropical countries like India, Mexico, Central and South America. About 90 percent of infections are asymptomatic (do not produce any symptoms) and the remaining 1O percent produces a spectrum varying from dysentery to amoebic liver abscess.
After you are infected with amoebiasis it may take days, months or years before you become ill. However, the illness usually develops two to four weeks after infection.
The genome sequence of the pathogen Entamoeba histolytica is reported this week. E. histolytica causes amoebiasis, the second most deadly protozoan disease after malaria. The genome contains adaptations shared with other anaerobic pathogens such as Trichomonas and Giardia . And there is evidence that the genome has been shaped by many gene transfers from bacteria, which may suggest possible targets for drugs against these organisms. The identification of a large number of sensing and signalling proteins challenges the idea that E. histolytica is a simple organism: in fact it is finely attuned to its environment.
The most common symptoms of amoebiasis are diarrhoea. Other symptoms are:
Amoebiasis occurs when the parasites are taken in by mouth. People with amoebiasis have Entamoeba hisolytica parasites in their faeces. The infection can spread when infected people do not dispose of their faeces in a sanitary manner or do not wash their hands properly after going to the toilet. Contaminated hands can then spread the parasites to food that may be eaten by other people and surfaces that may be touched by other people. Hands can also become contaminated when changing the nappies of an infected infant. Amoebiasis can also be spread by:
Asymptomatic patients can be treated with luminal agents like Liodoquinol or Diloxanide Furoate. Patients with acute colitis require supportive therapy (rehydration) and Metronidazole, followed by luminal agents. Metronidazole is also the drug of choice for amoebic liver abscess. Second line agents like Chloroquine and Emetine are no longer used. Prognosis is generally good with treatment unless complications of abscess rupture occurs when surgical intervention may be required.
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