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Amoebiasis in children

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Amoebiasis is an intestinal parasitic illness which is caused by a single-celled microscopic parasite called Entamoeba histolytica. Parasites are micro or macro organisms which live or depend on other living organisms for their survival or food or both.

What is the Amoebiasis?

Amoebiasis is an intestinal parasitic illness which is caused by a single-celled microscopic parasite called Entamoeba histolytica. Parasites are micro or macro organisms which live or depend on other living organisms for their survival or food or both.

How does Amoebiasis spread?

Amoebiasis usually occurs by consumption of contaminated water or food that contains the cysts of entamoeba. Most often it spreads by house flies and cockroaches.

What are the symptoms of Amoebiasis?

 

Children with amoebiasis present with loose motions with blood and mucus, foul smelling flatus and uneasiness. Chronic infection may lead to weight loss and malnourished children. There is pain in lower abdomen especially on passing a bowel motion. If infection period is long it can involve liver and other body organs also leading to a condition called as amoebic abscess.

What are the causes for Amoebiasis?

Even though there is constant spread of infection, (within a family or in a hotel) some people are resistant to amoebiasis. Even if infected, some are only carriers and do not suffer from it. This shows that the ultimate cause of suffering is hidden than the exposed causative factor i.e. amoeba.

Amoeba infects in two ways.

From cysts

  • Taking contaminated food or drinks
  • Taking vegetables and fruits which have been contaminated by the soil
  • Taking non-veg foods (meat and intestines of animals - goat, pig, beef, etc.)

As with trophozoites

  • From pets
  • From human carriers directly to others thro' food contamination, sharing towels, etc.
  • Unhygienic conditions and poor sanitation - especially after using the toilet.

What are the complications?

Complications usually develop after the trophozoites enter the blood stream to infect other organs. They especially invade the liver, which purifies blood

  • Anemia due to blood loss in stools
  • Septicemia due to abscesses in intestines, liver, lung, brain, spleen, etc.
  • Perforation of intestines and peritonitis which lead to shock or septicemia
  • Jaundice due to spread in liver (with liver abscess)
  • Constant infection leads to appendicitis or stricture of intestines

Effects:

  • Constant foul smelling stools due to infected ulcers caused by amoeba
  • Intestinal damage or scarring which restrict normal absorption of nutrients
  • Fits or epilepsy due to spread in brain as brain abscess or cysts in brain

How is diagnosis of Amoebiasis made ?

Amoebiasis is diagnosed by examination of stool and isolating the cysts of the entamoeba.

How is Amoebiasis treated ?

Amoebiasis is a 100% treatable disease and specific antibiotics such as metronidazole or nitazoxanide may be used for the treatment under a doctor’s prescription. If the disease is advanced and has lead to formation of abscess then the abscess may need to be removed by surgery.


How can Amoebiasis be prevented?

General measures: 

Practice good sanitary conditions. Make servers or chefs wear gloves while preparing or serving food to avoid food contamination

 

Personal measures:

  • Take care of drinking water.
  • Either opt for mineral water or water boiled for 20 minutes
  • Wash hands before food and after using the toilet
  • Cut and keep your nails clean
  • Wash vegetables and fruits well in flowing water before intake or cooking
  • Avoid sharing towels with infected persons
  • Avoid alcohol for preventing intestinal complications while having amoebiasis.

Risk factors:

  • Taking food contaminated with cysts causes more risk than foods contaminated with trophozoites since cysts are resistant to gastric acid juices.
  • Being close to the sufferer or to asymptomatic cyst passers carries more risk due to constant infection or re-infection.

 

 

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