Amoebiasis natural history

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


Natural History, Complications and Prognosis

Natural History

Life-cycle of the Entamoeba histolytica

Infections can sometimes last for years. Symptoms take from a few days to a few weeks to develop and manifest themselves, but usually it is about two to four weeks. Onset time is highly variable and the average asymptomatic infection persists for over a year. It is theorized that the absence of symptoms or their intensity may vary with such factors as strain of amoeba, immune response of the host, and perhaps associated bacteria and viruses.


In the majority of cases, amoebas remain in the gastrointestinal tract of the hosts. Severe ulceration of the gastrointestinal mucosal surfaces occurs in less than 16% of cases. In fewer cases, the parasite invades the soft tissues, most commonly the liver. Only rarely are masses formed (amoebomas) that lead to intestinal obstruction.

Entamoeba histolytica infection is associated with malnutrition and stunting of growth.[1]

Other complications



  1. Mondal D, Petri Jr WA, Sack RB, et al. (2006). "Entamoeba histolytica-associated diarreal illness is negatively associated with the growth of preschool shildren: evidence from a prospective study". Trans R Soc Trop Med H 100 (11): 1032–38. doi:10.1016/j.trstmh.2005.12.012.