Amebiasis is defined as infection with Entamoeba histolytica, regardless of associated symptomatology. In resource-rich nations, this parasitic protozoan is seen primarily in travelers to and emigrants from endemic areas. Infections range from asymptomatic colonization to amebic colitis and life-threatening abscesses. Importantly, disease may occur months to years after exposure. Although E histolytica was previously thought to infect 10% of the world's population, 2 morphologically identical but genetically distinct and apparently nonpathogenic Entamoeba species are now recognized as causing most asymptomatic cases. To avoid unnecessary and possibly harmful therapies, clinicians should follow the diagnostic and treatment guidelines of the World Health Organization.
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