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Nasty Infectious Diseases You Want To Avoid - Amebiasis

Updated on November 30, 2008

 Amebiasis (amoebiasis), also known as amoebic dysentery, this infection of the liver or intestine is caused by the parasite Entamoeba histolytica, normally found in the human intestinal tract and feces. It is most serious in infants, the elderly, and those with impaired immune systems. Anyone can get the disease, but it is found more often in homosexual males, and those arriving from tropical or subtropical areas and those in institutions. Some people carry the parasite for weeks to years, often without symptoms.

Cause - Food can be tainted with the protozoa through fecal contamination, such as when infected food handlers don't wash their hands after using the bathroom. A person contracts the disease by swallowing the cyst stage of the parasite in contaminated food or water. The disease can also be spread by person-to-person contact, especially during anal intercourse.

Symptoms - If there are symptoms, they may include tenderness over the abdomen and liver, abdominal pain, jaundice, loose morning stools, diarrhea, nervousness, anorexia, weight loss, and fatigue. Symptoms usually occur from a few days to a few months after exposure, but usually within two to four weeks. Most people exposed to the disease don't become seriously ill.  Rarely, the parasite will invade the body beyond the intestines, causing a more serious infection (such as a liver abscess). Fortunately over 80% of all people who contract E. histolytica never suffer any significant symptoms thus never become sick from it.

Diagnosis - The disease is diagnosed by examining stools under a microscope; multiple samples of fresh feces may have to be studied because the number of parasites changes from day to day, and they are hard to see.

Treatment - Metronidazole is often effective in curing the infection. It is not usually necessary to isolate an infected person, since casual contact at work or school is not likely to transmit the disease. Special precautions may be needed by food handlers or children enrolled in day care.

Prevention - Careful handwashing after going to the bathroom and proper disposal of sewage can help prevent the disease. Infected patients should refrain from intimate contact until effectively treated. Since amebiasis can be endemic in many foreign countries, especially the ones near the tropics, it is adviseable to drink only bottled or boiled (for at least 1 minute) water or carbonated drinks which are sealed in bottles or cans. You should shy away from fountain drinks or any drinks with ice cubes in them as they can release contaminated water as they melt. Another way to make water safe is through a filtration process utilizing a 1 micron or less filter and dissolving iodine, chlorine, or chlorine dioxide tablets in the filtered water. Quality 1 micron filters can be purchased in many camping/outdoor supply stores. It is also adviseable to not eat or drink milk, cheese, or dairy products unless you are convinced that they have been pasteurized. Furthermore, you should not eat fresh fruit or vegetables that you did not peel yourself, and most importantly never eat or drink anything sold by street vendors.

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    • profile image

      kelly 

      6 years ago

      thats gross why does it look like that

    • profile image

      ulianotka 

      8 years ago

      Infections caused by E. histoltyca appear in both the intestine, and, in the case of patients who experience the disorder’s symptoms, in the tissue of the intestine or liver. Due to this fact there are two different types of drugs that are usually recommended in the treatment of the infection, one for each contaminated body area. The most popular drug that is often prescribed by most doctors is Metronidazole; however, your personal health care provider can also recommend you other drugs such as Tinidazole, Secnidazole or Ornidazole, which are used to cure the Amebiasis disease and the parasite that have invaded the tissue. See more on 24drug.com

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Either that or cook 'em! :)

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 

      9 years ago

      LOL, there's no way out than to abandon salads, right Hal?

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Unless the sunlight can totally dessicate the green and the amoeba within, then it won't work. The KMNO4 and KMNO3 can be effective against amoebas, but only in rather high concentrations, much higher than those usually recommended for washing greens. I'd also be very careful with these compounds as they can react with organic solvents and a) blow up, b) set on fire, and c) create nerve toxins. However, if you have some KNMO3 and some hydrogen peroxide around, you can mix yourself up a mean batch of rocket fuel. Yeah, no kiddin'! :)

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 

      9 years ago

      Shalini, you mean KMNO3? The purple stuff that's used to clean wounds, is it?

      Hal, do you think sunlight would do the trick?

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      9 years ago from India

      It's so prevalent in India, Hal. People do advocate washing greens in a mild solution of potassium permanganate - don't know if it gets rid of the amoeba though.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Amoebas are present in the water supplies that the plants are grown in. Unfortunately, the amount of microwave energy required to fry the amoebas will also wilt the salad leaves to an unacceptable amount. Irradiation is the only sure way to kill amoeba without affecting the structure of the raw leaves, but many people don't look too kindly on eating salad that's been exposed to radioactivity.

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 

      9 years ago

      Previously, I was under the impression that amoeba is present in certain types of green leaves. In some parts of Asia, some kinds of green leaves are washed thoroughly and shred before being added to salads. They are found to contain anti-oxidents of a very high quality.

      However, when people in these parts develop amoebiasis, doctors attribute this to the consumption of these green leaves without sufficient cleaning.

      However well they are washed, it is said that some amoeba is still present. Do you think that a little bit of micro wave exposture will sort out the problem, without killing the nutrition value of the leaves and weakening the anti-oxydants?

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