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Amoebiasis (Entamoeba histolytica)

04 September, 2019

There have been a few reported cases of Entamoeba Histolytica that was acquired out of kingdom during the short break.

Please read the below educations materials for further information on the disease and prevention tips.


What is amoebiasis?

Amoebiasis is a condition caused by infection with a parasite called Entamoeba histolytica, often called E. histolytica. There are at least six species of Entamoeba that can infect the human gut, but only E. histolytica causes disease.

The symptoms are often quite mild and can include loose stools, stomach pain, and stomach cramping. Amoebic dysentery is a more severe form of amoebiasis associated with stomach pain, bloody stools, and fever. Rarely, E. histolytica invades the liver and forms an abscess. Even less commonly, it may spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or brain.

Symptoms usually start within 2 to 4 weeks but can be weeks or months after exposure. Nine out of ten people infected with E. histolytica do not develop any symptoms.


How do you get infected with E. histolytica?

You usually get infected with E. histolytica by drinking water contaminated by infected feces or eating food prepared or washed using contaminated water. E. histolytica is more likely to infect people who live in developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are poor. Most people with E. histolytica infection have caught it whilst travelling or living abroad. Transmission among people in the same household is possible.

E. histolytica cysts can also survive in the environment for 12 days and up to 30 days in water.


How can you avoid passing E. histolytica to others?

Infection can spread from person-to-person; however, the risk is low if the infected person is treated with antibiotics and practices good personal hygiene. This includes:

  • Washing your hands with soap and water after using the toilet
  • Washing your hands before handling, preparing, eating or cooking food
  • Cleaning toilet seats, toilet bowls, flush handles, taps and wash hand basins after use with detergent and hot water, followed by a household disinfectant.


How do you treat infection with E. histolytica?

Treatment is usually by one or a combination of two antibiotics, depending on the symptoms you are experiencing. It is very important to complete treatment to prevent passing the infection to others and avoid developing further symptoms at a later stage.


General advice to avoid travel-related infections

While traveling aboard to less-developed areas, please remember these simple safety tips:

  • Drink bottled water (make sure the seal is intact) or ensure water for drinking is boiled.
  • Do not have ice in your drinks 
  • Do not eat fresh fruit or vegetables that cannot be peeled before eating
  • Avoid eating food or drink bought from street vendors (except drinks in sealed cans or bottles or food which has been thoroughly cooked in front of the traveler and served hot on clean crockery) (See for further advice)


What to do if you develop symptoms and suspect that you have E. histolytica?

 You should see your doctor so that amoebiasis or other causes can be excluded.