Amoebiasis or amebiasis is a disease caused by infection with the parasite Entamoebae histolytica in the intestine. Amebiasis often occurs in tropical countries and developing countries with poor sanitation systems, including Indonesia .

Amebiasis occurs as a result of consuming food or drink contaminated with E. histolytica larvae . This condition is generally characterized by diarrhea or stomach cramps. In severe cases, sufferers may experience fever and jaundice.

Amebiasis is also known as amoebic dysentery. If not treated properly, this disease can lead to serious complications such as the spread of parasitic infection to the brain or liver.

Causes of Amebiasis

Amebiasis is caused by the parasite E. histolytica . These parasites can enter the body and settle in the intestines in the following ways:

  • Consuming food and drink contaminated with Histolytica
  • Touching soil, water, fertilizer or feces contaminated with Histolytica and then not washing hands
  • Touching an object contaminated with Histolytica, then putting his hand in his mouth without washing his hands first
  • Having sex with people with amebiasis, especially through the mouth (oral) and anus (anal)

Usually, E. histolytica larvae are in an inactive state if they are in water, soil, fertilizer, or feces. However, E. histolytica larvae will become active (trophozoites) once they enter the body. Active larvae will breed in the digestive tract, then move and settle on the wall of the large intestine.

A person is at high risk of being infected with this parasite if he frequently travels to tropical countries or who has many cases of amebiasis. E. histolytica infection can get worse if the following factors are present:

  • Having alcohol addiction
  • Using corticosteroid drugs for a long time
  • Experiencing malnutrition
  • Suffering from cancer
  • Is pregnant

Symptoms of Amebiasis

Symptoms of amebiasis appear 7–28 days after a person is infected with the parasite. In most cases, sufferers will experience the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Excessive wind
  • Body feels very tired

If left unchecked, the parasite can penetrate the intestinal wall and cause sores. This parasite can also spread to the liver through the blood vessels and cause a liver abscess (collection of pus).

If the condition is severe, the patient may experience the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in the upper abdomen
  • Dysentery or diarrhea with stools mixed with mucus and blood
  • High fever
  • Throws up
  • Swollen belly
  • Jaundice ( jaundice )

When to go to the doctor

Check with your doctor if you experience the symptoms of amebiasis mentioned above. If amebiasis is diagnosed and treated quickly, the risk of complications can be prevented.

Also consult a doctor immediately if you have severe diarrhea, such as diarrhea that is accompanied by blood or lasts more than 3 days, vomiting, or symptoms of dehydration .

Amebiasis Diagnosis

To diagnose amebiasis, the doctor will ask about the symptoms experienced, the lifestyle they are living, as well as the patient's medical history and travel history to certain areas. Next, the doctor will perform a physical examination.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will perform additional tests, such as:

  • Stool examination , to find the presence of Histolytica
  • Blood tests , to detect infection in the blood and the presence or absence of anemia, and to assess liver function
  • Scans with CT scan or ultrasound , to detect inflammation or abscesses in the liver or certain organs
  • Colonoscopy , to detect abnormalities in the large intestine
  • Needle biopsy , to detect the presence of parasites by taking a sample from the liver abscess

Amebiasis Treatment

Treatment of amebiasis aims to kill parasites, reduce the risk of parasites spreading to other parts of the body, and treat complaints. Treatment methods include:

Administration of drugs

Some drugs to treat amebiasis are:

  • Antibiotics
    Antibiotics, such as metronidazole or tinidazole, are used to kill parasites in the body. This drug is usually given with an antiparasitic, such as diloxanide furoate.
  • Anti-nausea drugs
    In patients who experience symptoms of nausea, doctors can give anti-nausea drugs. Examples of such anti-nausea drugs are ondansetron , metoclopramide, or domperidone .

Body fluid replacement

The doctor will advise the patient to consume lots of water and ORS to replace the fluids lost due to diarrhea. If the dehydration is severe enough, the patient will need to be hospitalized.


If the amebiasis causes a perforation (hole) of the intestine or severe colitis, the doctor will perform surgery to remove the problem bowel. In addition, surgery can also be performed to treat liver abscesses that do not improve after antibiotics.

Amebiasis Complications

Untreated amebiasis can lead to a number of complications, such as:

  • Anemia due to intestinal bleeding, especially in patients with intestinal inflammation ( amebic colitis )
  • Blockage or obstruction of the intestine due to a lump of tissue in the intestine (ameboma)
  • Amebic liver abscess, which is the formation of an abscess in the liver tissue
  • Sepsis , which is the spread of a parasitic infection throughout the body, including the brain
  • Hole in the intestine

Amebiasis Prevention

Amebiasis can be prevented by adopting a clean and healthy lifestyle. Some of the efforts that can be done are:

  • Apply the habit of washing hands with soap and running water, especially after urinating or defecating, before and after eating or processing food, and after changing the baby's diaper.
  • Wash vegetables or fruit thoroughly, and peel them before consuming.
  • Wash cookware thoroughly before use.
  • Bring the water to a boil before drinking.
  • Consume milk and dairy products that have gone through the pasteurization process.
  • Be careful when choosing snacks.
  • Do not share the use of toiletries, such as towels, soap, or toothbrushes, with others.
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