Health Library

Amoebic Dysentery

Definition

Amoebic dysentery is an intestinal illness caused by a parasite and associated with stomach pain, bloody stools, and fever.

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
Digestive Pathway
Digestive pathway
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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
  • Having anal sexual intercourse
  • Household contact

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Loose or watery stools
  • Bloody stools
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Pain on your right, upper side

Diagnosis

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

Your doctor may 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. This can be done with:

  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan

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. Probiotics may also be helpful.

Several antibiotics are available to treat amoebic dysentery. Probiotics may also be helpful.

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.

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

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.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/amebiasis/fact%5Fsheet.htm. Updated October 2011. Accessed August 7, 2013.
Amebiasis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated May 31, 2013. Accessed August 7, 2013.
Parasites–amebiasis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/amebiasis/index.html. Updated November 2, 2010. Accessed August 7, 2013.