The method of choice in the diagnosis of amoebic dysentery is stool examination. This must be carried out at least three times, on three consecutive days, to ensure proper detection of amoebae. Both amoeba cysts and trophozoites can be detected in the stool with the aid of a microscope.
With this examination method, however, it must be taken into account that trophozoites are very short-lived. For this reason they can only be detected within a time window of about 10 to 15 minutes. In addition, a blood test should be performed if an amoeba infection is suspected.
However, this examination method is rather unsuitable for the detection of the actual infection. Only the effects of amoeba infestation, for example dehydration due to severe diarrhoea or changes in liver values in amoebic liver cysts, can be shown in this way. Various imaging techniques (ultrasound, computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging) can also be used to visualise a possible liver abscess.
The treatment of amoeba infection depends on both the form and the severity of the disease. So-called contact amoebicides (for example diloxanide furoate) remain only in the intestine. They are mainly used to treat asymptomatic amoeba carriers.
In addition, these drugs can be used for the after-treatment of intestinal amoebic dysentery. Tissue amoebicides (e.g. dehydroemetin), on the other hand, also enter the bloodstream and can therefore be used to treat extraintestinal amoebic dysentery. Because of the potentially serious side effects of these drugs, they are now only used in cases of severe disease.
Alternatively, contact and tissue amoebicides can be administered. These drugs used to treat amoebic dysentery remain in the intestine and can also enter the bloodstream. For this reason, both the intestinal and the extraintestinal form of amoebic dysentery can be treated in this way. In addition, a patient suffering from amoebic dysentery must ensure a sufficient fluid intake. Otherwise dehydration can quickly occur due to the severe, watery diarrhoea.
When staying in tropical or subtropical regions, it is recommended to take certain safety measures. In this way, the risk of an amoeba infection can be reduced as much as possible. Drinking water should always be boiled or sterilized by filtration before consumption.
The consumption of salads should be completely avoided in the affected regions. Furthermore, fruit should never be eaten unpeeled. For this reason only peelable fruit should be eaten. In general, it should be noted that the change of diet should always be done slowly and carefully.
Amoeba infection in the eye
An amoeba infection may not only affect the gastrointestinal tract, but also the eye. Corneal inflammation is usually caused by bacterial pathogens. Infection by viral pathogens or fungi is less common, but can still occur.
According to the latest findings, however, amoebae can also cause inflammatory processes in the eye, more precisely in the corneal area. Especially an inflammation in the eye caused by amoebae (so-called acanthamoebae) can be very dangerous. The reason for this is the fact that the causative amoebae penetrate the cornea and in this way can also cause inflammation in the entire eye.
As a result, those affected can even go completely blind. The symptoms of an amoeba infection in the eye are quite unspecific, especially at the beginning. Affected persons usually first notice a pronounced redness and increased lacrimation.
In addition, vision can be severely impaired right from the start. Affected patients usually report that their vision is no longer sharp but increasingly blurred. Only in the course of the disease does severe pain typically occur.
At this point it can be assumed that the nerve cells in the eye have already been damaged by the causative parasites. It is precisely this delayed onset of pain symptoms that allows a distinction to be made between bacterial corneal inflammation and amoeba infection. If the inflammatory processes are caused by bacterial pathogens, the pain usually occurs much earlier. Since the inflammation in the eye caused by amoebae is a serious disease pattern, comprehensive diagnostics must be initiated at the first suspicion. Only by prompt identification of the causative parasites and rapid initiation of appropriate treatment can permanent impairment of visual performance be avoided.