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Definition

Amoebic dysentery is an intestinal illness.

Causes

Amoebic dysentery is caused by a specific parasite. You may develop amoebic dysentery if you:

  • Put something in your mouth that has touched the stool of an infected person.
  • Swallow water or food that has been contaminated with the parasite.
  • Touch cysts (eggs) from contaminated surfaces and bring them to your mouth

Digestive Pathway
Digestive pathway

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Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of amoebic dysentery include:

  • Living in or traveling to developing countries, places that have poor sanitary conditions, or tropical or subtropical areas
  • Living in institutions with poor sanitary conditions
  • Household contact with infected person
  • Having anal sexual intercourse

Symptoms

Most people with the parasite do not have symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Loose /watery stools or constipation
  • Bloody stools
  • Constant feeling you need to move your bowels
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Pain on your right, upper side (if you have the parasite in your liver)

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your body's fluids and waste products will be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Stool samples

Images may need to be taken of your bodily structures, especially your liver. This can be done with:

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

Medications

Several antibiotics are available to treat amoebic dysentery or liver infection. Probiotics may also be helpful to reduce the symptoms.

Prevention

To help reduce your chances amoebic dysentery, take the following steps when traveling to a country that has poor sanitary conditions:

  • Drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled for at least 1 minute
  • Do not eat fresh fruit or vegetables that you do not peel yourself
  • Do not eat or drink unpasteurized milk, cheese, or dairy products
  • Do not eat or drink anything sold by street vendors
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Use hand sanitizers if soap and water are not available.
  • People carrying the parasite may need to be treated to avoid spreading it to others.
RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
http://www.niaid.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:

Amebiasis (amoebic dysentery). New York State Department of Health website. Available at: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/amebiasis/fact_sheet.htm. Updated September 2017. Accessed March 16, 2018.

Amebiasis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114784/Amebiasis. Updated December 9, 2016. Accessed March 16, 2018.

Parasites–amebiasis—Entamoeba histolyticainfection . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/amebiasis/index.html. Updated December 16, 2015. Accessed March 16, 2018.

Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD  Last Updated: 6/16/2014