What is Amoebiasis?
Amoebiasis is an infection of the large intestine produced by the parasite Entamoeba histolytica. In a country like India, almost 75% of the population suffers from this condition in view of the poor hygienic status of the population, flies, open hawking of cooked food. The common mode of spread is the fecal-oral route as also common foodborne and waterborne transmission.
The E histolytica is present in two forms viz the amoebic motile form and the cyst form. The cyst is commonly spread through the oral route. In the small intestine, the cyst wall disintegrates. Immature amoebae pass into the large intestine where they live in the lumen of the gut feeding on bacteria and debris.
Amoebic ulceration of the intestinal wall is characteristic. Bottle shaped lesions are formed,
together with an inflammatory response.
Clinical Features of Amoebiasis
1. Intestinal Amoebiasis
There is intermittent diarrhea, consisting of one to four foul-smelling loose stools daily. Stools contain mucous and sometimes blood. This alternates with periods of relative normalcy. Flatulence and abdominal cramping are present. Tender hepatomegaly may be present as also a thickened tender colon due to extensive damage to the colonic mucous membrane. Complications include hemorrhage, perforation and peritonitis.
2. Hepatic Amoebiasis
There is tender hepatomegaly (enlarged liver), right upper abdomen pain, low-grade fever. A liver abscess may develop slowly. There is high fever, chills, and rigors, nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal pain. The patient looks very toxic.
Management of Amoebiasis
While intestinal amoebiasis is relatively benign, however, it is advisable to check with a doctor. Simple preventive measures, good hygiene practice would help a great deal to avoid recurrences of attacks. However, if the patient starts having fever, pain abdomen, a doctor must be consulted.