Although several protozoan species in the genus Entamoeba colonize humans, not all of them are associated with disease. Entamoeba histolytica is well recognized as a pathogenic amoeba causing amebiasis, which can involve both intestinal and extraintestinal infections. The other Entamoeba species are important because they may be confused with E. histolytica in diagnostic investigations.
Entamoeba histolytica is responsible for an estimated 35 to 50 million cases of symptomatic disease and around 100,000 deaths annually, apparently as a result of parasite destruction of host tissue. The majority of morbidity and mortality occurs in Asia, Central and South America, and Africa. Children are especially vulnerable as they can suffer from malnourishment and stunted growth as a result of repeated infection.
(Pritt and Clark 2008 and references therein; Ralston and Petri 2011 and references therein)
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