Novelties on amoebiasis: a neglected tropical disease

J Glob Infect Dis. 2011 Apr;3(2):166-74. doi: 10.4103/0974-777X.81695.


In accordance with the 1997 documents of the World Health Organization (WHO), amoebiasis is defined as the infection by the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica with or without clinical manifestations. The only known natural host of E. histolytica is the human with the large intestine as major target organ. This parasite has a very simple life cycle in which the infective form is the cyst, considered a resistant form of parasite: The asymptomatic cyst passers and the intestinal amoebiasis patients are the transmitters; they excrete cysts in their feces, which can contaminate food and water sources. E. histolytica sensu stricto is the potentially pathogenic species and E. dispar is a commensal non-pathogenic Entamoeba. Both species are biochemical, immunological and genetically distinct. The knowledge of both species with different pathogenic phenotypes comes from a large scientific debate during the second half of the 20(th) century, which gave place to the rapid development of diagnostics technology based on molecular and immunological strategies. During the last ten years, knowledge of the new epidemiology of amoebiasis in different geographic endemic and non-endemic areas has been obtained by applying mostly molecular techniques. In the present work we highlight novelties on human infection and the disease that can help the general physician from both endemic and non-endemic countries in their medical practice, particularly, now that emigration is undoubtedly a global phenomenon that is modifying the previous geography of infectious diseases worldwide.

Keywords: Amoebiasis; Diagnosis; Treatment.