Amebiasis, also known as amoebiasis or amoebic dysentery, is a parasitic intestinal infection caused by a parasite called Entamoeba histolytica, or E. histolytica. This infection is caused by ingesting entamoeba histolytica cysts found in water, soil, or fertilizer contaminated with feces. The symptoms range from diarrhea, stomach pain, and stomach cramping to more severe effects of amebic dysentery, including bloody stool, fever, and severe stomach pain.
When cysts enter the human body, they release a parasite called trophozoite in the digestive tract, which reproduces in the large intestinal wall or colon, causing bloody stool, colitis, and stomach pain.
Anyone can become infected; however, it is most common in
- People who visited a place with poor sanitary conditions
- People who live in institutions with unsanitary conditions, such as a jail
- People who come into direct contact with infected feces
- People who eat food prepared from someone that didn’t wash their hands
When a person becomes infected, the parasite can spread to others through stool, even if the infected person doesn’t have symptoms. Individuals can also become infected if they touch a contaminated surface and bring their hands to their mouth.
How to Prevent Amebiasis
While anyone can contract this parasitic infection, it is most common in places with poor sanitary conditions. If you are traveling to a country with poor sanitary conditions, take the proper precautions to avoid contracting amebiasis:
- Only drink bottled water
- Use bottled water to brush your teeth
- Drink carbonated canned beverages such as soda
- Avoid using ice cubes
- Refrain from drinking fountain drinks
- Peel fruits and vegetables
- Don’t eat food sold from street vendors
- Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after using the restroom, before eating, and before handling food.
Treatment Available: Humatin™
If you’re experiencing amebiasis symptoms or believe you’ve contracted amebiasis, contact your healthcare provider. They may ask for a stool or blood sample to determine if you’ve been infected.
Oftentimes, amebiasis can be difficult to diagnose because some parasites look similar to E. histolytica under a microscope. If your doctor determines that you are infected and need treatment, they may choose to prescribe Humatin™, a prescription medicine containing paromomycin sulfate to treat acute and chronic intestinal amebiasis. Note: Humatin™ is not effective in extraintestinal amebiasis.