Emerging Diarrhea-Causing Parasite Discovered in Kolkata

Why in News: A study in Kolkata has found an amoeba pathogen that previously did not cause any amoebiasis in humans, has now become pathogenic (causing disease).

About Amoebiasis

  • It is a parasitic infection of the intestines caused by the amoeba Entamoeba histolytica, or E. histolytica.
  • Amoebiasis which is caused by Entamoeba histolytica is a global health problem.
  • It is responsible for more than 100,000 deaths per year and is the second leading cause of global death due to protozoa after malaria.

Entamoeba Histolytica

  • It is a single-celled protozoan that causes intestinal amebiasis as well as extra-intestinal manifestations.
  • E. histolytica is a member of the phylum Sarcomastigophora and subphylum Sarcodina, class Lobosa, order Amoebida, and family Entamoebidae.
  • Entamoeba histolytica continues to be an important global health issue being the third leading cause of death from parasitic infections.

Spread & Symptoms

  • Amoebiasis is often transmitted through contaminated food or water.
  • Loose stool, abdominal cramping, and stomach pain are its symptoms.


The primary therapy for amebiasis requires hydration and the use of metronidazole and/or tinidazole.

What is the primary cause of amoebiasis?

The primary cause of amoebiasis, also known as amebiasis, is the parasite called Entamoeba histolytica. This microscopic single-celled organism is responsible for causing the infection in humans. Entamoeba histolytica typically exists in two forms during its life cycle: a non-invasive cyst stage and an invasive trophozoite stage.

The infection is transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated food or water that contains the cysts of Entamoeba histolytica. Once the cysts reach the human intestines, they transform into the trophozoite form, which can cause damage to the intestinal lining, leading to amoebic colitis. In some cases, the trophozoites can penetrate the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream, spreading to other organs, such as the liver, and causing amoebic liver abscesses.

Amoebiasis is more prevalent in areas with poor sanitation and inadequate access to clean drinking water, as the cysts can easily contaminate water sources. Additionally, certain risk factors, such as traveling to endemic regions, consuming raw or undercooked food, and living in crowded or unhygienic conditions, can increase the likelihood of contracting the infection.

Proper sanitation practices, safe drinking water, and good personal hygiene are essential in preventing the spread of amoebiasis. Treatment for the infection usually involves specific medications that target the parasite, and in severe cases, drainage of abscesses may be necessary. If you suspect you have amoebiasis or are experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly.

What causes amoebiasis in babies?

Amoebiasis, or amebiasis, is primarily caused by the ingestion of the parasite Entamoeba histolytica. The infection spreads through the consumption of contaminated food and water that contains the cysts of the parasite.

Additionally, poor hygiene practices contribute to the transmission of amoebiasis. Contaminated hands, especially when not properly washed, can spread the parasite to food and surfaces that others may come into contact with.

Changing the diapers of an infected infant can also lead to hand contamination and further transmission. Drinking water contaminated with the cysts of Entamoeba histolytica is another common mode of transmission for this diarrheal disease.

To prevent the spread of amoebiasis, it is crucial to practice good hygiene, including thorough handwashing, and to ensure the consumption of safe and clean drinking water and food.

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