Definition

Amoebic dysentery is an intestinal illness.

Causes

This problem is caused by an infection with a specific parasite. A person may become infected with the parasite by:

  • Putting something in their mouth that has touched the stool of an infected person
  • Swallowing water or food that is contaminated
  • Swallowing eggs picked up from contaminated surfaces or hands

Digestive Pathway
Digestive pathway

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Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

  • Spending time in places that have poor sanitary conditions, especially tropical developing countries
  • Living in institutions with poor sanitary conditions
  • Oral-anal contact
  • Household contact with an infected person

Symptoms

Most people do not have symptoms. Those who do may have:

  • Diarrhea that is bloody, watery, or contains mucus
  • Belly pain
  • Constipation
  • A constant feeling of needing to pass stool
  • Fever
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Nausea
  • Lack of hunger

Diagnosis

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

Your stool will be tested to look for signs of infection. Blood tests may also be done.

Treatment

Antibiotics will be given to treat amoebic dysentery. More than one may be used. Probiotics may also ease symptoms.

Prevention

The risk of this problem in poor sanitary conditions can be lowered by:

  • Drinking only bottled water or water that has been boiled for at least 1 minute
  • Drinking other fluids (like soda) from sealed cans or bottles
  • Not adding ice cubes to drinks
  • Not eating unpeeled fruits and veggies
  • Not eating or drinking unpasteurized milk, cheese, or dairy products
  • Not eating foods or drinks sold by street vendors
  • Washing hands often with soap and water or using hand sanitizer
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. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/amebiasis. Accessed September 11, 2020.

Amebiasis (amoebic dysentery). New York State Department of Health website. Available at: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/amebiasis/fact_sheet.htm. Accessed September 11, 2020.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roy SL. Chapter 3: Infectious Diseases Related to Travel Amebiasis. In: Brunette GW, ed. CDC Health Information for International Travel; 2016. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Parasites–amebiasis— Entamoeba histolytica infection . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/amebiasis/index.html. Accessed September 11, 2020.

Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Shawna Grubb, RN  Last Updated: 9/11/2020