Amebiasis: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

Hydrating with the right enough of fluids is extremely important to one’s health. As a result, it’s easy to see why water-borne diseases can be very alarming. Among such conditions caused by contaminated water sources is amebiasis, caused by the one-celled parasite ‘Entamoeba histolytica’. This parasite can enter the body typically through the ingestion of contaminated food and water, although it can also be passed on by swallowing food and water that have picked up the parasite’s cysts or eggs. Amebiasis is particularly alarming because it is highly contagious. Anyone carrying the parasite in his or her system can easily pass it on through their stool. When this fecal material contaminates food or water sources, the disease can very quickly spread to others. While the parasite can lie dormant and not cause any noticeable symptoms for some time, it can invade the lining of a person’s large intestine and cause stomach pain and cramping, nausea, bloody diarrhea, and fever. In rare cases and without proper treatment, the parasite can soon invade the liver and form an abscess. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, amebiasis is most common in people that reside in tropical areas with poor sanitary conditions.

However, they are also quick to note that amebiasis can also be contracted in the United States, especially for people who have recently travelled to or have emigrated from these tropical areas. Unreliable water and sanitation systems can also be a big factor in the spread of amebiasis. This can be true for establishments and institutions, as well as the home. Fortunately, while the condition is quite common, it is also as easy to prevent. For one, children might be more susceptible to contracting amebiasis due to exploratory play. Encouraging them to wash their hands frequently, particularly before a meal, should protect them from the disease.

A foolproof way to keep water sources at home completely safe, is through the use of water softening and filtering systems in residential homes. For individuals traveling to countries with poor sanitary conditions, the CDC suggests drinking from sealed bottles or cans.

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