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Indian J Gastroenterol. 2012 Jul;31(4):153-62. Epub 2012 Aug 19.

Amebic infection in humans.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow 226 014, India.


Clinical human infections with the protozoa Entamoeba histolytica is still estimated to occur in 50 million people worldwide, of which approximately 100,000 die annually. Although most clinical symptoms are due to involvement of the large intestine, 1 % present with involvement of the liver in the form of a liver abscess, a potentially fatal condition. Distinguishing an invasive form (E. histolytica) from a morphologically identical non-invasive one (E. dispar) requires molecular or enzymatic characterization. Further, the pattern of infection, interpretation of presence of antibodies in the host, manifestations of disease, approach to investigations and strategies for management remain complex. This article also provides a comprehensive review of the parasite and host factors that govern the complex relationship of the prozoa and humans, and tries to explain why some develop a particular form of the disease in endemic zones. Application of modern imaging and image guided therapy seems to be playing a major role in diagnosis and management of the potentially most serious form of the disease, amebic liver abscess. Despite lack of controlled studies there is a tendency to lower the threshold of their use in clinical practice, and indeed in-hospital mortality rate seems to be falling for amebic liver abscess. In a world getting increasingly swamped by non-infectious metabolic diseases, awareness of amebic infections, its bed-side diagnosis, the use of appropriate laboratory tests, and decision making in management are shrinking. This review tries to update the scientific developments in amebiasis.

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