Amebiasis is a disease caused by a one-celled parasite called entamoeba histolytica.
And though anyone can have this disease, it is most common in people who live in developing countries that have poor sanitary conditions. Amebiasis infection is also found in people who live in institutions that have poor sanitary conditions.
Doctor Gapira Ganza, a general medical practitioner working at Butare university teaching hospital says that amibiasis infection is common in most of the patients who come to the hospital complaining of dull and persistent lower part of the abdominal pains. He says that such pains are due to intestinal amibiasis that affects them in a long run.
The doctor adds that there are various ways of how some one can get infected with the diseases. By putting anything into your mouth that has touched the stool of a person who is infected with Entamoeba histolytica can lead to the infection of the disease.
Other causes of the disease include; swallowing something such as water or food that is contaminated with the parasite, by touching and bringing to your mouth eggs picked up from surfaces that are contaminated with the parasite.
He explains that some one who is infected with the disease can shows numerous signs that are not severe but affects the health condition of the person. The symptoms often are quite mild and can include loose stools, stomach pain, and stomach cramping.
Amebic dysentery is a severe form of amebiasis associated with stomach pain, bloody stools, and fever. Rarely, the Entamoeba histolytica invades the liver and forms an abscess. Even less commonly, it spreads to other parts of the body such as the one.
The doctor highlights that people having the above mentioned problems or symptoms should submit stool samples.
This is because Entamoeba histolytica is not always found in every stool sample, and the patient might be asked to submit several stool samples from several different days. Some times diagnosis of amebiasis can be very difficult.
One problem is that other parasites and cells can look very similar to the Entamoeba histolytica parasite when seen under a microscope. Therefore, sometimes people are told that they are infected with the parasite even though they are not.
The reason behind all this confusion is that Entamoeba histolytica and another ameba, entamoeba dispar that is more common, look the same when seen under a microscope.
Unlike infection with Entamoeba histolytica that sometimes makes people sick, infection with Entamoeba dispar never makes people sick and therefore does not need to be treated.
Some times one can be told that he or she is infected with the Entamoeba histolytica but if the patient is feeling fine, one might be infected with the Entamoeba dispar instead.
Unfortunately most laboratories do not yet have the tests that can tell whether a person is infected with the E.histolytica or with E.dispar. Until these tests become more widely available, it usually is best to assume that the parasite is E.histolytica.
A blood test is also available. However, the test is recommended only when your health care provider thinks that your infection has invaded the wall of the intestine or some other organ of your body, such as the liver.
One problem is that the blood test may still be positive if you had amebiasis in the past, even if you are no longer infected. Asymptomatic or mild cases of amebiasis may require no treatment.
However, because of the potential for disease spread, amebiasis is generally treated with a medication to kill the parasite causing the disease. In case of the Entamoeba histolytica, the patient is always with one drug such as Fragil or fransigine.
More severe cases of amebic dysentery are additionally treated by replacing lost fluid and blood. Patients with an amebic liver abscess will also require hospitalization and bed rest.
For those cases of extra intestinal amebiasis, treatment can be complicated because different drugs may be required to eliminate the parasite, based on the location of the infection within the body.
Drugs used to treat amebiasis, called amebicides are divided into various categories. Prevention of disease is through the use of proper and normal health routines.
There are no immunization procedures or medications that can be taken prior to potential exposure to prevent amebiasis.
People who have had the disease can become re-infected and prevention requires effective personal and community hygiene.
Specific measures for the disease prevention include; Purification of drinking water, Proper food handling, careful disposal of human feces and monitoring the contacts of amebiasis patients.
The stools of family members and sexual partners of infected persons should be tested for the presence of eggs of the parasite.