Amoebic dysentery (amoebiasis) is an infection of the intestine ) caused by an amoeba called Entamoeba histolytica, which can cause severe diarrhoea. Amoebae are parasites that are found in contaminated food or drink. They enter the body when contaminated food or drink are swallowed. The amoebae are then able to move through the digestive system and lodge in the intestine where they cause infection. The most dangerous, Entamoeba Histolytica, are tropical species which can cut through the intestinal wall and spread through the bloodstream to infect other organs, such as the liver, lungs and brain.
It exists ass free amoebae (known as 'trophozoites') or as infective cysts, which are groups of amoebae surrounded by a protective membrabe excreted by human or animal. The cysts are protected from stomach acids and very dangerous. When cysts reach the intestine, amoebae are released amd attack the intestine. They are passed on by negligent food treatment where contaminated food or drink have not been made hot enough by cooking to kill them off. Salads, fruits or seafood washed with dirty water are a common source..
Amoebic dysentery may not show symptoms for months or even years. However it can still be infectious to others. The amoebae bite into the walls of the large intestine, causing ulceration and bleeding. Initial symptoms are stomach cramps, painful passage of stools and bloody, slimy foul-smelling diarrhoea,. If the amoebae break through the intestinal wall and its lining or peritoneum, they cause peritonitis. Amoebae are carried in the bloodstream to the liver and other organs and produce a high temperature. The amoebae can form enormous cysts in the liver and other organs.causing weight loss and severe illness.
The way to avoid infection with amoebic cysts is to ensure that all food and drink has been washed, boiled, peeled or sterilised and cooked to a high temperature. Drinking water can be made safe by boiling it for 10 to 15 minutes (a little longer at high altitudes), and then cooling it rapidly and keeping it sealed, by adding water-purifying tablets at least 15 minutes before drinking, or by buying bottles of sealed water.
Avoid eating food such salad, unpeeled fruit and ice cream or ice cubes .
Anyone with bloody diarrhoea should see a doctor an tell hime where they have been. Diagnosisis is straightforward with a stool inspection. But complications may need ultrasound. Bloody diarrhoea is seen in many illnesses, but in tropical areas it is most oftwen a sign of either amoebic dysentery or shigellosis (bacillary dysentery which is caused by bacteria).
Amoebic dysentery is treated with metronidazole (eg Flagyl tablets). Complications, such as perforation of the intestinal wall or the presence of abscesses within the body's organs, require specialist hospital treatment. In an emergency, for instance if you have bloody diarrhoea and are on holiday and cannot get medical help, you can treat yourself with metronidazole, eg two 400mg tablets, three times a day for five days. This is the dose for adults who are neither pregnant nor breastfeeding. It is important to avoid drinking alcohol during treatment. Even if you have to treat yourself, it is important to see a doctor to ensure that the treatment has been truly effective.As metronidazole requires a prescription, you could ask your own doctor to write a prescription in advance if you know that you will be travelling where access to a doctor or hospital may be difficult.
Report by: Dr Charlie Easmon MBBS, MRCP MSc Public Health DTM&H DocMed, specialist adviser in travel medicine, Travel Screening Services, 1 Harley Street, London, and specialist registrar in public health, North Thames.
C from Scotland caught it at a Riu
I don't know what happened to cause it but there were hundreds of kids around. I'd be willing to bet that they helped to spread the illness, they had their hands in the ice cream etc. Not nice when you think of all the people eating there in all complexes! I would urge anyone who stayed in either of the complexes who are still experiencing symptoms to go and see your doctor. If you have picked up Dysentery as I did it is very contagious and is a notifiable illness."
A from Cambs caught it at the Riu in Sal
The Daily Mail reported on an outbreak at a Riu