Amoebian dysentery is an acute infectious disease, manifested by severe diarrhea. Some children are more exposed because the disease spreads due to poor hygiene. Amoebian dysentery, also called amoebiasis, is caused by the parasitic Entamoeba histolytica, as opposed to the bacillary one, caused by Shigella bacteria.
Worldwide, amoebian dysentery affects over 50 million people annually. Dysentery infection causes between 40,000 and 100,000 deaths each year, according to World Health Organization data.
The disease makes most victims in countries with tropical or subtropical climate. Amoebian dysentery manifests itself through milder symptoms in temperate countries. In some cases, the infection is asymptomatic. Remaining undiagnosed, amoebic dysentery may have chronic evolution.
Entamoeba hystolitica is most commonly found in tropical areas, but the parasite can be spread in Europe by carriers, in case of poor hygiene.
The parasite enters the body through the consumption of food or contaminated water. Unlike bacterial dysentery, amoebiasis can be more dangerous due to the ability of parasites to group in cysts in the stomach, becoming resistant to gastric acid.
In the absence of basic hygiene rules, especially washing hands after the toilet, the disease can spread easily, because the parasite is present in feces.
In the case of amoebic dysentery, the symptoms may appear after months or even years from the time of infection, during which time the infected child can spread the disease.
The most common symptoms of sick children with amoebian dysentery are:
- diarrhea with blood or mucositis;
- intestinal cramps and severe abdominal pain;
- occasional fever.
Untreated, amoebic dysentery can lead to weight loss, and the parasite can puncture the intestinal wall, causing intestinal ulcers. It is advisable to consult a doctor in the emergency system in case of a blood or mucus stool appearance.
The onset of symptoms is often progressive. After 7-10 days characterized by soft and bad stools, the symptoms worsen, with the appearance of blood and mucus in the stool and abdominal pain.
In cases where diarrhea is very strong or accompanied by vomiting, the risk of dehydration is high for children, but especially for infants. If the infected baby does not drink enough fluids, the disease can be fatal.
Entamoeba hystolitica can sometimes cross the intestinal barrier. Once it reaches the bloodstream, the parasite can reach other organs, where it destroys the tissues.
Treatment of amoebic dysentery
The doctor makes the diagnosis based on the samples taken from the chair of the sick child, and the improvement of the symptoms is the priority in the treatment. Intestinal ulcers are detected by ultrasound. Treatment requires hospitalization and bed rest.
The little dehydrated people need to consume fruit juices and drinks rich in salts and minerals. When vomiting cannot be controlled, fluids will be injected intravenously.
Most cases heal by themselves, the parasites being killed by the immune system. While bacterial dysentery is treated with antibiotics, amoebiasis responds to a drug treatment based on ambicides (tissue and contact). Metronidazole is the most commonly prescribed drug for amoebic dysentery.
If the parasite has spread to the body, the treatment includes surgery to remove it.
Prevention of dysentery
Entamoeba hystolitica infection cannot be prevented by vaccination, so proper hygiene remains the safest measure to prevent amoebic dysentery.
Precautionary measures to prevent infection
- hand washing after using the toilet and before meals;
- avoiding the shared use of towels and other personal items;
- water pre-consumption in endemic areas.