Amoebic dysentery is an intestinal illness caused by a parasite.
Amoebic dysentery is caused by a parasite called Entamoeba histolytica. You may develop amoebic dysentery if you:
- Put something in your mouth that has touched the stool of a person infected with E. histolytica
- Swallow water or food that has been contaminated with E. histolytica
- Touch cysts (eggs) from E. histolytica—contaminated surfaces and bring them to your mouth
Factors that increase your risk of getting amoebic dysentery include:
- Living in or traveling to developing countries, places that have poor sanitary conditions, tropical, or subtropical areas
- Living in institutions with poor sanitary conditions
- Having anal sexual intercourse
- Household contact with infected person
Most people with the parasite do not have symptoms. Symptoms may include:
- Loose /watery stools or constipation
- Bloody stools
- Constant feeling you need to move your bowels
- Weight loss
- Stomach pain
- Pain on your right, upper side (if you have the parasite in your liver)
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your doctor will need tests of your bodily fluids and waste products. This can be done with:
- Blood tests
- Stool samples
Images may need to be taken of your bodily structures, especially your liver. This can be done with:
- CT scan
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Several antibiotics are available to treat amoebic dysentery or liver infection. Probiotics may also be helpful to reduce the symptoms.
To help reduce your chances of getting amoebic dysentery, take the following steps when traveling to a country that has poor sanitary conditions:
- Drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled for at least one minute
- Do not eat fresh fruit or vegetables that you do not peel yourself
- Do not eat or drink unpasteurized milk, cheese, or dairy products
- Do not eat or drink anything sold by street vendors
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Use hand sanitizers if soap and water are not available.
- People carrying the parasite may need to be treated to avoid spreading it to others.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Public Health Agency of Canada
Amebiasis (amoebic dysentery). New York State Department of Health website. Available at: http://www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/amebiasis/fact_sheet.htm. Updated October 2011. Accessed August 7, 2013.
Amebiasis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated May 31, 2013. Accessed June 16, 2014.
Parasites–amebiasis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/amebiasis/index.html. Updated November 2, 2010. Accessed August 7, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.