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Amebic liver abscess

  • Definition

    Amebic liver abscess is a collection of pus in the liver brought on by an intestinal parasite.

    Alternative Names

    Hepatic amebiasis; Extraintestinal amebiasis; Abscess - amebic liver

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Amebic liver abscess is caused by Entamoeba histolytica, the same organism that causes amebiasis, an intestinal infection also called amebic dysentery. The organism is carried by the blood from the intestines to the liver.

    The disease spreads through ingestion of amebic cysts in food or water contaminated with feces (sometimes due to use of human waste as fertilizer), and through person-to-person contact.

    The infection occurs worldwide, but is most common in tropical areas where crowded living conditions and poor sanitation exist. Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and India have significant health problems associated with this disease.

    Risk factors for amebic liver abscess include:

    • Alcoholism
    • Cancer
    • Homosexual activity, particularly in men
    • Immunosuppression
    • Malnutrition
    • Old age
    • Pregnancy
    • Recent travel to a tropical region
    • Steroid use