Parasites induced diarrheas. Moraes Rego, s. Recife, Pernambuco, Brasil. CEP
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Photo: Dr. Some amebas, like Entamoeba histolytica , may cause diseases to humans. It is part of a larger group of amebas - the Endamoebidae family - that are common parasites for us. They live in our digestive system or infect other tissues; they are small and can form cysts around them, which make them more resistant to unfavorable conditions in its environment.
Entamoeba histolytica generally coexists well with us, not causing any problems. That is why it is an Endamoeba , that is, an ameba that lives within the body of anymals and is commonly found inside vertebrates. But in certain conditions it can cause diseases, that is, if it starts eating or phagocytizing cells in our bodies such as red blood cells or invading organs and tissues, like the liver or the intestines. It is only then that it causes diseases.
Amebas can cause a simple dysentery diarrhea or severely damage an organ or tissue. They are all over the world and are generally associated with poverty and poor hygiene. Because you can develop amebiases simply by drinking water or eating food contaminates with amoebic cysts. But how did these cysts end up in the water and the food? As obligate intestinal parasites of humans, there is only one way: through feces. When there is no basic sanitation or where hygiene conditions are poor, there is a greater chance that water will get contaminated by human feces.
Downstream, the same water might be used to water vegetables or fruit or even for direct human consumption. Did you notice a cycle? To make things worse, these cysts are resistant! They can live on average for 30 days in the water, for 12 days on fresh feces, 24 hours in bread and cakes and 20 hours in dairy that is, food made from or containing milk!
However, fortunately, we can break this chain of transmission: we only have to assure minimum sanitary conditions for the population and provide them with treated water, since adding chlorine in water treatment plants kill these cysts and other amebas. Besides that, we should have good hygiene habits such as:.
That is why preventing an infection is the best way! There are also other amebas that act as parasites for humans, but they live well with us and do not cause diseases, such as Endolimac nana and Iodameba butschlii. Some free-living species might eventually cause diseases to us, like those from genera Hartmannella , Acanthameba and Naegleria , which causes meningeal infections human meningoencephalitis - which can be deadly or lesions to the cornea a layer that protects the eye.
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