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2288 pages added, reviewed or updated during the last month (last updated: 19/4/2021)


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amoebic dysentery

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Amoebic dysentery is caused by Entamoeba histolytica, which is most often acquired in the tropics.

The organism invades the colonic mucosa creating shallow ulcers with undermined edges.

  • Reservoir - Humans are the only known reservoir

  • Epidemiology - Infections occur worldwide but are endemic in countries with poor sanitation; most UK cases are imported by travellers to endemic areas

  • Transmission - Main route is through ingestion of contaminated food or water. Person-to-person transmission may also occur between household and sexual contacts via faecal-oral route

  • Incubation period - Usually 2-4 weeks but may last months to several years


  • Clinical features - 90% of cases are asymptomatic
    • diarrhoea with or without dysentery occurs in intestinal disease- symptoms are often few or mild, with loose stools, mucus and blood - however may lead to fulminating colitis
    • complications of this condition include severe colitis, perforation, localised amoeboma and liver abscess.
      • amoebic liver abscess may occur which can be fatal

  • Period of infectiousness - cases are considered infectious as long as cysts continue to be excreted which may last several years

Note:

  • confirmation via PCR is important to distinguish between E. histolytica and non-pathogenic strains e.g. E. dispar

Reference:

  • PHE (2019). Recommendations for the Public Health Management of Gastrointestinal Infections

Last edited 02/2020

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