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Home :: Amebiasis

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Amebiasis - Treatment of Amebiasis

What is Amebiasis?

Amebiasis is the infection with the protozoan Entamoeba histolytica. There are two basic types of amebiasis: intestinal and extraintestinal disease, which may exist simultaneously. About 10% of the world's population is infected by either E. histolytica or E. dispar , resulting in 50 million cases of invasive amebiasis and 100,000 deaths (all due to E. histolytica ). Amoebiasis most commonly affects young to middle-aged adults. Extraintestinal Amebiasis most often results in liver abscess, but any organ may be involved. It can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or brain, but this is very uncommon. Diagnosis of invasive amebiasis depends on the presenting symptoms, detection of antiamebic antibodies, and blood in the stool, a finding that should lead to examination of the stool for trophozoites. You can get Amebiasis if you swallow food or water that has been infected with the parasite or if you have contact with the stool of a person who is infected. According to a report in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, amebiasis causes 40 million to 50 million serious illnesses and 40,000 to 110,000 deaths worldwide every year.

If you're traveling to an area with poor sanitation, taking a few precautions can protect you from amebiasis and other diseases. A severe form of amebiasis causes stomach pain, bloody stools, and fever. Liver abscesses and brain or lung infections occur infrequently.

Causes of Amebiasis

The encrysted form of Entamoeba histolytica is swallowed in the contaminated food or water. Within the large intestine, the cysts develop into motile trophozooites (active forms) that burrow into the walls of the large intestine and cause ulcers. These trophozooites can burrow ithrough the intestinal walls into the blood vessels and spread to other parts of the body like liver.

Symptoms of Amebiasis

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Dysentery : blood and mucus in the stool
  • Tenderness along the large intestine

Diarrhea and abdominal pain set in within 2-6 weeks of Amebiasis. This leaves residue of abdominal cramps and recurrent 'mucusy' stools called as Chronic Amebic Colitis. Amebiasis can cause Hepatitis once its affect the liver.

Treatment of Amebiasis

  • Amebicides like Metronidazole, Tinidazole
  • Patients with hepatic amebiasis are treated with metronidazole 750 mg po tid for 10 days or 500 mg IV every 6 hours for 10 days.
  • Severe dysentry may lead to hospitalisation for IV fluids and Metronidazole
  • Treatment is only available by prescription from a health care provider. Infections may require two different types of medication given in sequence to cure the infection.
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