April 25, 2012

Amoebic Dysentery - APPSC Group 1 Mains - Paper 4

Causative Agent

Amoebic dysentery is an intestinal infection caused by a parasite called Entamoeba histolytica.

Clinical Features

Infection by Entamoeba histolytica may be asymptomatic. The symptoms of amoebic dysentery include fever, chills, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Stool may contain blood and/or mucus. Entamoeba histolytica may rarely invade the liver to form an abscess. Less commonly, it spreads to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or brain. Other complications include inflammation of the intestine or rarely perforation.

Mode of Transmission

Transmission of amoebic dysentery occurs mainly by ingestion of faecal contaminated food or water containing the cyst of Entamoeba histolytica. Transmission can also occur sexually through oral-anal contact.

Risk Factors

People who live in institutions and those who travel to developing countries with poor sanitary conditions are at a higher risk of getting the disease.

Incubation Period

The incubation period is variable, and may range from a few days to several months. It is usually 2 to 4 weeks.


Diagnosis is usually made by microscopic examination of patient's stool specimen for Entamoeba histolytica trophozoites and/or cysts. Presence of red blood cells and white blood cells facilitates the diagnosis of amoebic dysentery.


Treatment should include fluid replacement and antibiotics.


1. Maintain good personal, food and environmental hygiene.
2. Wash hands properly with soap and water before eating or handling food, and after toilet or changing diapers.
3. Drinking water should be from the mains and preferably boiled.
4. Purchase fresh food from reliable sources.
5. Do not patronize illegal hawkers.
6. Cook food thoroughly.
7. Exclude infected persons and asymptomatic carriers from handling food and from providing care to children, elderly and immunocompromised people.
8. Persons with gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea should refrain from work/school and seek medical consultation promptly.
9. When traveling to a country with poor sanitary conditions, persons should take the following precautions:
* Always wash hands before eating and after going to toilets
* Drink only boiled water, or bottled drinks by reputable companies, and pasteurized milk or dairy products
* Avoid drinks prepared by ice of unknown origin
* Eat only thoroughly cooked food
* Avoid peeled fruits and vegetables that are not thoroughly cleaned
* Do not patronize illegal hawkers


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