Amoebiasis epidemiology and demographics

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Epidemiology and Demographics

It is estimated by the WHO that about 70,000 people die annually worldwide. Since amoebiasis is transmitted through contaminated food and water, it is often endemic in regions of the world with limited modern sanitation systems, including Mexico, western South America, South Asia, and western and southern Africa.


In older textbooks it is often stated that 10% of the world's population is infected with Entamoeba histolytica. It is now known that at least 90% of these infections are due to E. dispar. Nevertheless, this means that there are up to 50 million true E. histolytica infections and approximately seventy thousand die each year, mostly from liver abscesses or other complications. Although usually considered a tropical parasite, the first case reported (in 1875) was actually in St Petersburg in Russia, near the Arctic Circle. Infection is more common in warmer areas, but this is both because of poorer hygiene and because the parasite cysts survive longer in warm moist conditions.

Populations at risk

All people are believed to be susceptible to infection and there is no evidence that individuals with a damaged or undeveloped immunity may suffer more severe forms of the disease.