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Definition  

Amoebic dysentery is an intestinal illness caused by a parasite.

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Digestive Pathway  
Digestive pathway

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Causes  

Amoebic dysentery is caused by a parasite called Entamoeba histolytica. You may develop amoebic dysentery if you:

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

Factors that increase your risk of getting amoebic dysentery include:

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

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your doctor will need tests of your bodily fluids and waste products. 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:

  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan
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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.

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Prevention  

To help reduce your chances of getting 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 one 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.