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Education Travel Health Tropical Medicine

Amebiasis and Travel

CDC dpdx

We have decided to start using some of the work that has been put into some of our education modules, traveler/patient hand-outs and internal training material here on the blog. So there is going to be a new feature of a brief examination of a disease, condition or piece on travel health a lot more frequently. To get this started I have selected Amebiasis mainly because it starts with the letter “A”.

Amebiasis

Condition: A parasitic infection that often affects the gastro-intestinal tract causing diarrhea; may spread to other organs of the body (liver) to form abscesses

Infectious Agent: Entamoeba histolytica, a protozoan parasite

Signs and Symptoms: Crampy, water and sometimes bloody diarrhea; weight loss; 1/3 of patients have a fever; asymptomatic infections may be seen

Diagnosis: PCR testing is standard; microscopically indistinguishable from E. dispar which is non-pathogenic

Transmission: Fecal-oral route such as eating or drinking fecally contaminated products

Treatment: Metronidazole followed by iodoquinol or paromomycin

Prevention: Food and water precautions including ice and frequent handwashings; avoidance of fecal exposure during sexual activity; there is no vaccine against amebiasis and prophylactic medicine is not advised

Epidemiology: Found worldwide, especially in the tropics; more common in areas of poor sanitation; most commonly seen in travelers returning from South America, South Asia and the Middle East; Long-term travelers (>6 months) are considered higher risk than shorter-term travelers; only 10-20% of infected patients become symptomatic

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