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 Amoebiasis-Definition, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

 Amoebiasis-Definition, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Amoeba are shapeless and one of the most fascinating organisms due to their simplicity. Besides attracting the students and integrating their interest in science, they also cause disease. Amoebiasis is one of those common diseases caused specifically by the parasitic infection in the colon by Entamoeba histolytica. 

Table of Contents

  • What is Amoebiasis?
  • How Do You Contract Amoebiasis?
  • How Do You Confirm Amoebiasis? 
  • Risk Factors of Amoebiasis
  • Diagnosis of Amoebiasis
  • Treatment Method For Amoebiasis
  • Preventing Amoebiasis
  • Practice Problems
  • Frequently Asked Questions

What is Amoebiasis?

Also known as amoebic dysentery, it is a disease caused due to a protozoan parasite living in the large intestine of the human body. The organism is introduced into the body through contaminated food and water, which subsequently begins its life cycle in the human body. 

The common signs of the disease are as follows:

  • The passage of the stool carrying the cysts or eggs of the organism in the form of diarrhoea. 
  • Colitis (inflammation of the large intestine)

Understanding the Spread of Amoebiasis

The four ways by which Amoebiasis spreads are as follows: 

  • Consumption of contaminated food and water which is infected via flies or other insects sitting on the faeces of infected people
  • Living in unsanitary conditions 
  • Directly swallowing the parasite eggs
  • Through unprotected sexual interaction with an infected person

Signs/Symptoms of Amoebiasis 

The symptoms vary largely. They might not even exist or range from mild to severe. The commonly exhibited signs by the body include: 

  • General: Fever with chills, weight loss, fatigue, abdominal ache and weakness
  • Gastrointestinal: Abdominal discomfort, Diarrhoea followed by constipation 
  • Stool: The excretion can begin with diarrhoea, resulting in electrolyte imbalance. The patients can also expect blood or mucus.

Risk Factors of Amoebiasis

The people living in areas or situations with the possibility of thriving microbes are at risk. The potential risk factors include: 

  • Tropical locations due to their poor sanitation 
  • Generally unsanitary places or institutions such as prisons, slums or others 
  • People with compromised or weak immune systems
  • People with comorbid conditions that make healing difficult 

Diagnosis of Amoebiasis

The diagnosis of the medical condition involves the following steps: 

  • Enquiring about the travel and medical history of the patient 
  • A diagnostic test to check the presence of eggs or cysts in the stool samples of the patient 
  • Checking the spread of infection into the liver 
  • Further examining infection into other bodily organs depending upon the severity of infection (the parasite might not be detected in stool in such cases)
  • Ultrasound test 

Treatment For Amoebiasis

The treatment focuses on killing the protozoa and relieving the symptoms. Thus, doctors prescribe antiprotozoal medications specifically for ten days. The tissue-specific infection requires taking medications such as metronidazole as a capsule, or luminal infection may require iodoquinoline. Different strategies may require medication combinations as per the condition. The symptom relievers may focus on working on nausea. The high-severity case may require surgery. 

Preventing Amoebiasis

Working directly on the risk factors is the best method to prevent the medical condition. Here are the effective steps to prevent amoebiasis: 

  • Treating the condition as soon as possible to avoid infection severity and prevent its spread 
  • Maintain hygienic conditions and cleanliness 
  • Washing and peeling the vegetables and fruits properly 
  • Drink only purified water and intake only pasteurised dairy products 
  • Avoid street foods

Practice Problems

Q1. What is the incubation period of amoebiasis?

A. 1-2 weeks 
B. 2-4 weeks
C. 1-2 days 
D. 2-4 days 

Ans. B. 2-4 weeks

The incubation period or the time between infection and onset of symptoms, lies between 2 to 4 weeks. 

Q2. Which microbe affects the liver? 

A. Entamoeba histolytica
B. Plasmodium
C. Toxoplasma gonadii
D. Giardia

Ans. A. Entamoeba histolytica

The protozoa infect the liver, thus causing an amoebic liver abscess. 

Q3. How much time does it take to cure Amoebiasis?

A. 1 week
B. 2 weeks
C. 3 weeks 
D. Four weeks 

Ans. B. 2 weeks

With the right treatment, the infection should subside within two weeks. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How many nuclei does Entamoeba histolytica have?
Ans. The protozoan can have around 1 to 4 nuclei. 

Q2. Is amoebiasis transmissible through contact? 
Ans. The infection occurs through the intake of contaminated food. Thus, direct contact, if not between the infected person and food without washing their hands, is not possible to contract the disease. 

Q3. Which countries are prone to amoebiasis?
Ans. Some of the commonly prone countries are Africa, Southeast and South Asia, a few parts of America, North Africa and Haiti.

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