Epidemiology and etiology

Amebiasis remains one of the most important parasitic diseases because of its worldwide distribution and serious GI manifestations. The major causative agent in amebiasis is E. histolytica, which invades the colon and must be differentiated from E. dispar, which is associated with an asymptomatic carrier state and is considered non-

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pathogenic. Invasive amebiasis is almost exclusively the result of ingesting E. histolytica cysts found in fecally-contaminated food or water. Approximately 50 million cases of invasive disease result each year worldwide, leading to an excess of 100,000 deaths. In the general population, the highest incidence is found in institutionalized mentally retarded patients, sexually active homosexuals, AIDS patients, the Native American population, and new immigrants from endemic areas (e.g., Mexico, South and Southeast Asia, West and South Africa, and portions of Central and South America).

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