How Is Amebiasis Transmitted?

Amebiasis, also known as amoebiasis or amoebic dysentery, is an intestinal parasite infection caused by a microscopic parasite called Entamoeba histolytica or E. histolytica. Amebiasis is a global disease, but it is most common in impoverished tropical areas with poor sanitation and overcrowding, including Africa, Mexico, parts of South America, and India.

What Are The Symptoms of Amebiasis? 

The majority of those infected with amebiasis experience no parasitic symptoms at all. Others may have mild or severe symptoms, or may not have any symptoms until a few days or months after exposure. Most people experience symptoms within two to four weeks of exposure.

Mild amebiasis symptoms may include nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, stomach tenderness, fever, and cramping. In fact, amebiasis is ranked one of the top 15 causes of diarrhea among children two years old living in developing countries. More severe cases may lead to amebic dysentery associated with stomach pain, bloody stool, and fever. 

E. histolytica cysts live in the colon and don’t typically cause extraintestinal damage. In more severe cases, they can move beyond the colon wall, causing colitis, acute dysentery, or chronic diarrhea. In rare cases, it can spread through the bloodstream to the liver, lungs, brain, or other organs.

Who Can Get Amebiasis? 

Anyone can get amebiasis. However, the following groups are at the highest risk: 

  • People who have traveled to tropical locations with poor sanitary conditions
  • Immigrants or travelers from tropical countries with poor sanitary conditions
  • People who live in institutions with poor sanitary conditions, such as jails
  • People who have oral-anal sex with an infected individual 
  • People who do not take proper precautions when visiting a place with poor sanitary conditions, such as drinking tap water, not washing fruits and vegetables before eating them, and eating unpasteurized dairy products

Additionally, people with suppressed immune systems and other underlying conditions are more at-risk for severe symptoms. 

How Is Amebiasis Transmitted? 

E histolytica cysts are only transmitted through humans via feces. This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Putting something in your mouth that has touched infected feces
  • Drinking contaminated water or ice 
  • Eating food that has touched contaminated feces
  • Having oral-anal sex with an infected person
  • Eating raw, unwashed fruits and vegetables that have touched infected feces 
  • Not washing hands while being infected and spreading it by touching other surfaces

How Can Amebiasis Be Treated?

If your doctor diagnoses you with amebiasis, they may prescribe you HUMATIN™  (paromomycin sulfate) capsules to treat both acute and chronic intestinal amebiasis. HUMATIN™ can also be prescribed to treat hepatic coma as an adjunctive therapy. 

While taking HUMATIN™, it’s important to have your doctor monitor you for the overgrowth of other organisms, such as fungi. Like other antibiotics, HUMATIN™ should be taken for the full prescribed course of therapy.

If your doctor prescribes you HUMATIN™, we can help you with financial assistance: just call our assistance program at 844.486.2846 for any questions about financial assistance or affordability.