What is Gastrointestinal Amebiasis?
Gasterointestinal Amebiasis is a type of food poisoning caused by a parasite. It is an infection of the large intestine caused by a microscopic parasite named Entamoeba histolytica that travel along the faeces of infected people. The parasite is an amoeba, a single-celled organism. In areas with poor sanitation facility, the parasites can contaminate water and if used as a fertilizer, can contaminate fruits and vegetables.
If consumed, the amoebas travel through the digestive system to get settled in the large intestine. In many cases, the parasites live in the large intestine without causing any harm to the body, but can cause amoebic dysentery, if amoebas invade the intestinal wall. Amoebic dysentery is an illness, which causes symptoms such as bleeding, diarrhoea, increased mucus production, excessive gas, unintentional weight loss, abdominal tenderness, fever, vomiting, bloody stools and intestinal ulcers. These parasites can pass into the bloodstream and may travel to the liver or the brain to cause abscesses.
The risk factors of severe gastrointestinal amebiasis include alcoholism, pregnancy, recent trip to a tropical region, cancer, malnutrition, and use of corticosteroid medication to suppress the immune system.
The treatment of gastrointestinal amebiasis depends on the severity of the infection, however, a 10-day oral course of metronidazole is prescribed. In case of a patient vomiting frequently, the medicine is given intravenously. The infection subsides within a period of two weeks, but can lead to severe complications, if left untreated or ignored.
For prevention of gastrointestinal amebiasis, always drink purified or boiled water, ensure proper sanitation system and do not consume uncooked vegetables or unpeeled fruit, especially when travelling to tropical regions.
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Source: Onlymyhealth editorial team Apr 23, 2013
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