What Is Amebiasis?
Amebiasis (am-uh-BYE-eh-sis) is an infection of the intestines with a parasite called Entamoeba histolytica (E. histolytica). The parasite is an amoeba (uh-MEE-buh), a single-celled organism. People can get this parasite by eating or drinking something that's contaminated with it.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Amebiasis?
In many cases, the parasite that causes amebiasis lives in a person's large intestine without causing any symptoms. Other times, it causes:
Diarrhea (which may be bloody)
Loss of appetite
In rare cases, it can spread into other organs such as the liver, lungs, and brain. For some people, symptoms of amebiasis can begin within days to weeks of swallowing contaminated food or water. For others, symptoms can take months to appear.
How Does Amebiasis Spread?
Amebiasis is contagious. People with amoebas in their intestines can pass the infection to others through stool (poop) even if they have no symptoms. When infected stool contaminates food or water supplies, amebiasis can spread quickly among many people at once. This is especially true in developing countries, where drinking water may be contaminated.
Amebiasis can also spread between people when hands aren't washed well, contaminated objects are shared, and by sexual contact.
Amebiasis usually happens in areas where living conditions are crowded and unsanitary. The illness is common in parts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. It is rare in the United States, but is sometimes seen in people who have immigrated from or traveled to countries where amebiasis is more common.
How Can Amebiasis Be Prevented?
Because amoebas may contaminate food and water, you can help prevent the illness by being careful about what you eat and drink, especially in developing countries. In those areas, a good rule regarding food is to cook it, boil it, peel it, or forget it. Ice can also be contaminated and should be avoided in these countries.
Everyone should wash their hands well after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food.
How Is Amebiasis Treated?
Doctors can treat amebiasis with antibiotics . Some people need more treatment, such as extra fluids.
When should you Call the Doctor?
Call your doctor if anyone in your family has signs or symptoms of amebiasis, such as:
Diarrhea with blood or mucus
Diarrhea that lasts longer than 2 weeks
A swollen belly
Pain or tenderness in the area of the liver (below the ribs on the right side)
This is especially important if you have recently travelled to a part of the world where amebiasis is common. Also call the doctor if your child has diarrhea and shows signs of being dehydrated, such as a dry or sticky mouth, peeing less than usual, no tears when crying, dizziness, or drowsiness.
Acanthamoeba is a microscopic, free-living ameba, or amoeba (single-celled living organism), that can cause rare, but severe infections of the eye, skin, and central nervous system. The ameba is found worldwide in the environment in water and soil. The ameba can be spread to the eyes through contact lens use, cuts, or skin wounds or by being inhaled into the lungs. Most people will be exposed to Acanthamoeba during their lifetime, but very few will become sick from this exposure.
The three diseases caused by Acanthamoeba are:
Acanthamoeba keratitis: An infection of the eye that typically occurs in healthy persons and can result in permanent visual impairment or blindness.
Granulomatous Amebic Encephalitis (GAE): A serious infection of the brain and spinal cord that typically occurs in persons with a compromised immune system.
Disseminated Infection: A widespread infection that affects the skin, sinuses, lungs and other organs independently or in combination. It is also more common in persons with a compromised immune system.
Where is Acanthamoeba found?
Acanthamoeba is found worldwide. Most commonly, Acanthamoeba is found in soil, dust, fresh water sources (such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs), in brackish water (such as a marsh), and sea water. Acanthamoeba can also be found in swimming pools, hot tubs, drinking water systems (for example, slime layers in pipes and taps), as well as in heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and humidifiers.
How does infection with Acanthamoeba occur?
Acanthamoeba keratitis infection has been linked to contact lens use, although people who do not use contact lenses can also become infected. Poor contact lens hygiene or wearing contact lenses during swimming, hot tub use, or showering may increase the risk of Acanthamoeba entering the eye and causing a serious infection. However, contact lens wearers who practice proper lens care can also develop infection.
Who is at risk for infection with Acanthamoeba?
Acanthamoeba keratitis is most common in people who wear contact lenses, but anyone can develop the infection. For people who wear contact lenses, certain practices can increase the risk of getting Acanthamoeba keratitis:
Storage and handling lenses improperly
Disinfecting lenses improperly (such as using tap water or homemade solutions to clean the lenses)
Swimming, using a hot tub, or showering while wearing lenses
Coming into contact with contaminated water
Having a history of trauma to the cornea
Is there treatment for infection with Acanthamoeba?
Eye and skin infections caused by Acanthamoeba are usually treatable. It is important to see your health care provider immediately if you think you have Acanthamoeba infection of the eye or skin as medical treatment is most effective when started early. Unfortunately, most cases of brain and spinal cord infection with Acanthamoeba (Granulomatous Encephalitis) are fatal.
How can you prevent an infection with Acanthamoeba?
These guidelines should be followed by all contact lens users to help reduce the risk of eye infections, including Acanthamoeba keratitis:
Visit your eye care provider for regular eye examinations.
Wear and replace contact lenses according to the schedule prescribed by your eye care provider.
Remove contact lenses before any activity involving contact with water, including showering, using a hot tub, or swimming.
Wash hands with soap and water and dry before handling contact lenses.
Clean contact lenses according to instructions from your eye care provider and the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Never reuse or top off old solution. Use fresh cleaning or disinfecting solution each time lenses are cleaned and stored.
Never use saline solution or re wetting drops to disinfect lenses. Neither solution is an effective or approved disinfectant.
Be sure to clean, rub, and rinse your lenses each time you remove your lenses. Rubbing and rinsing your contact lenses will aid in removing harmful microbes and residues.
Store reusable lenses in the proper storage case.
Storage cases should be rubbed and rinsed with sterile contact lens solution (never use tap water), emptied, and left open to dry after each use.
Replace storage cases at least once every three months.
Contact lens users with questions regarding which solutions are best for them should consult their eye care providers. They should also consult their eye care providers if they have any of the following symptoms: eye pain or redness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, sensation of something in the eye, or excessive tearing.
Scientists have found a connection between bacteria in the gut and anti-tumour immune responses in the liver, an advance with implications for understanding the mechanisms that lead to liver cancer and pave the way to treat them. The study showed that bacteria found in the gut of mice affect the liver’s anti-tumour immune function. “What we found using different tumour models is that if you treat mice with antibiotics and thereby deplete certain bacteria, you can change the composition of immune cells of the liver, affecting tumour growth in the liver,” said lead author Tim Greten, from the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a part of the National Institutes of Health.
In humans, the greatest proportion of the body’s total microbiome — the collection of bacteria and other micro-organisms that live in or on the body — is in the gut.
Despite extensive research into the relationship between the gut microbiome and cancer, the role of gut bacteria in the formation of liver cancer has remained poorly understood.
For the study, published in the journal Science, the team carried out a series of experiments with mice. They used three mouse liver cancer models and found that when they depleted gut bacteria using an antibiotic “cocktail,” the mice that had the antibiotics developed fewer and smaller liver tumours and had reduced metastasis to the liver.
The investigators found that antibiotic treatment increased the numbers of a type of immune cell called NKT cells in the livers of the mice.
In all three mouse models, the reduction in liver tumour growth that resulted from antibiotic treatment was dependent on these NKT cells.
Further, they found that the accumulation of the NKT cells in the liver resulted from an increase in the expression of a protein called CXCL16 on cells that line the inside of capillaries in the liver.
As bile acids can control the expression of CXCL16, the team treated mice with bile acids. They changed the number of NKT cells in the liver, and thus the number of tumours in the liver.
Finally, they found that one bacterial species, Clostridium scindens, controlled metabolism of bile acids in the mouse gut and ultimately CXCL16 expression, NKT cell accumulation, and tumour growth in the liver.
They found that bile acids also controlled the expression of the CXCL16 protein in the liver of humans, suggesting that the novel mechanism described in the study may potentially apply to cancer patients.
The gut microbiome plays an important role in an individual’s risk for atherosclerosis, one of the major causes of heart attack and stroke, says a study.
Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries.
The researchers believe that the new finding could open the door for new treatment options for those patients with unexplained plaque build-up in the arteries.
In order to understand the role that bacteria in the gut may play in atherosclerosis, the researchers examined blood levels of metabolic products of the intestinal microbiome.
They studied 316 people from different groups of patients, including those with unexplained atherosclerosis, who do not have any traditional risk factors but still have high levels of plaque burden.
“What we found was that patients with unexplained atherosclerosis had significantly higher blood levels of these toxic metabolites that are produced by the intestinal bacteria,” said David Spence, Professor at Western University, London, Canada.
The researchers measured the build-up of plaque in the arteries using carotid ultrasound.
The study, published in the journal Atherosclerosis, noted that these differences could not be explained by diet or kidney function, pointing to a difference in the make-up of their intestinal bacteria.
“The finding, and studies we have performed since, present us with an opportunity to use probiotics to counter these compounds in the gut and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Gregor Reid, Professor at Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University.
Repopulation of the intestinal microbiome is another novel approach to the treatment of atherosclerosis that arises from this study, Spence added.
"Listen to your gut." There is a reason why people often establish a link between the brain and the gut. Human gut has never received so much attention in the past than now when experts have managed to prove the fact that gut health closely affects some of the most integral processes of the body. Our gut is way more than just a place where what we eat gets stored, digested and then moved ahead to be thrown out of the body. Interestingly, your gut health may reflect in the quality of your skin and hair and may also translate into your mood and mental state.
Dr. Michael Mosley, a British television figure best known for presenting programmes on biology and medicine, has authored numerous books on health and wellness, most of them primarily focusing on gut health, diet and human health. The founder of the 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet and the 5:2 Diet, he has now created a new diet to reveal the intricacies of the gut microbiome and how closely it affects our health.
Basics of the Clever Gut Diet
1. Go the Mediterranean way
You are required to fill your plates with more of fresh fruits and veggies. The idea here is to get a fresh load of fibre from the choicest of ingredients. Red meat, sources of unhealthy fats, refined and processed items should be avoided. Plant-based foods, grains, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes should be a regular part of your diet. Fish and seafood is encouraged while poultry, eggs and dairy are allowed in moderation.
2. Experiment is the key
The best way to let the gut-friendly bacteria flourish and boost your health is by adding variety in your diet. Don't have a fixed diet, change the type of flour that you eat, keep experimenting very week with new types of grains, fruits, veggies. Millets are great for health and abundantly grown in India, there is a whole range available for you to try.
3. Banish sugar
While processed sugar should be avoided for good health, you can give alternative natural sugar a try. Refined sugar is plain glucose and a chief contributor in weight gain. To satisfy your sweet cravings, try jaggery or honey.
4. Try fermented foods
There's nothing like fermented food items to boost gut health, from classic curd and buttermilk to other items like kefir, kombucha to even sauerkraut - don't shy away from trying and adding a range of fermented foods to your diet and remember that variety is the key. Load up on foods rich in pro and prebiotics.
Surprisingly, some of the most chronic ailments start from the gut and this has been reiterated by the New York Times' bestselling author, Alejandro Junger who has also written a book called 'Clean Gut' on the importance of a healthy gut. "We have discovered there is ample evidence that many other diseases seemingly disconnected to the gut are also either rooter in gut dysfunction or highly affected by it. These include cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and depression, among others," he notes in his book also describing our gut as the "second brain" and the body's "Achilles' Heel.
Get in touch with a medical expert to learn more about gut health and how you can tweak your diet to maintain a happy gut and a healthy body.
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