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Medicine

The Amoeba That Eats Human Intestines, Cell By Cell 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the break-out-the-pepto dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Entamoeba histolytica is a tiny pathogen that takes a terrible toll. The single-celled parasite—an amoeba about a tenth the size of a dust mite—infects 50 million people worldwide and kills as many as 100,000 each year. Now, a new report reveals how the microbe does its deadly damage: by eating cells alive, piece by piece. The finding offers a potential target for new drugs to treat E. histolytica infections, and it transforms researchers' understanding of how the parasite works."
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The Amoeba That Eats Human Intestines, Cell By Cell

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  • This is like the Animal channel bugs that infest you program.
  • I was eating but, hey who needs food.
  • by Cthefuture (665326) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @10:20PM (#46710559)

    Infects 50 million and kills 100000... I'll take those odds. Better than driving to work for a year.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @10:39PM (#46710643) Journal
      The major nuisance with those odds (even if the nonkilled are all aymptomatic, rather than variously sickened) is that it means the organism can remain in the population basically forever, with an ample supply of carriers, barring develpment of some persistent eradication mechanism so effective and safe that it can ethically be mass-applied as a largely preventative measure(as, for instance, with the polio vaccine, where the safety and efficacy are good enough, and the duration of effect long enough, that you can just blanket entire areas with vaccination campaigns until the organism disappears from the population).
    • by hawkeyeMI (412577) <brock.brocktice@com> on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:07PM (#46710763) Homepage
      I'm guessing you haven't had amoebic dysentery. It saps all your energy and makes you poop blood. I'll take driving to work, thank you.
      • by hawkeyeMI (412577)
        Oh and I forgot, at least one treatment for it, Flagyl, actually makes you feel worse. But at least then you're done and can stop taking it.
        • by stoploss (2842505)

          Oh and I forgot, at least one treatment for it, Flagyl, actually makes you feel worse. But at least then you're done and can stop taking it.

          As a bonus, while you're on Flagyl you can't even drink to forget your problems.

          • by Gr8Apes (679165)

            Oh and I forgot, at least one treatment for it, Flagyl, actually makes you feel worse. But at least then you're done and can stop taking it.

            As a bonus, while you're on Flagyl you can't even drink to forget your problems.

            That's ok, you won't want to, as you'll be too busy moaning that you're dying already, provided it doesn't kill you. That is one of the "side effects" [webmd.com] not listed there but was on the bottle I saw that you should immediately contact your physician for...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It saps all your energy and makes you poop blood.

        Sounds just like my last car.

      • My grandfather had amoebic dysentery for years. It left him a debilitated husk when he died in 1956.

        Apparently he acquired the infection when drinking stream water while hunting for food for his family sometime during the 1920s. There was no effective treatment back then, so he just suffered.

        Not particularly something to have fun with.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:12PM (#46710783)

      Kills 100,000 *per year.* So, each year it kills 1 in 500 people that have it. That's very roughly a mortality rate of over 10% (rough math: of 500 people that have it now, approximately 50 of them will be dead from this after 50 years, and approximately 400 of them will be dead from other causes (with about 50 still alive)).

      Much less than 10% of the people who decide to drive to work during the course of their lifetimes are killed by driving to work.

      In the US in 1972, there were about 200 million people, and about 50 thousand of them died in traffic fatalities (about 2.5% of all US deaths that year). This was the worst year for traffic fatalities by volume and the eighth worst by percent. Let's say that roughly one quarter of the people in the US at the time displayed the symptoms of "driving to work" that year. Even if we presume that all of the traffic fatalities that occurred that year were due to driving to work, that's still a mortality of half of this mortality rate. We would need to suggest that only 1/8 of the population of the US drove to work that year to get to the same mortality rate as this pathogen.

      And that's the worst year for traffic fatalities in US history. Since then, our population has increased 50%, and traffic fatalities have decreased 40%. And once again, this is all using a worst case scenario of every traffic fatality being caused by driving to work, rather than driving for any other reason.

      So no, having this pathogen is *not* better than driving to work...these are not odds you would take.

      • Oblig xkcd:

        http://xkcd.com/558/ [xkcd.com]

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I believe a better car analogy to make your point would be, x number of people get in car accidents and y die as a result. Your analogy of comparing the ratio of drivers to driving deaths is missing a step.

        In this case the rate of infection is .7% for the entire world. The chance of death is .0014%. This does not even take into account first world healthcare. With your analogy, using your numbers, the death rate by car accidents in the current year is .01%. Driving to work is seven times more deadly than th

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I had this (stayed in some slums in tropical areas where the water supply comes from a deep-well 5 meters down, meanwhile the toilet buries the shit in sand 2 meters down. . . so shit has 3 meters to turn back into water. . . usually this works surprisingly well!).

      Anyway, treated it goes away fairly quickly, even with the current non-specific medicines (though these are powerful antibiotics and will wipe out *all* of the good stuff with the bad. . . this can have serious consequences for some).

      Untreated, y

  • by Tablizer (95088)

    a new report reveals how the microbe does its deadly damage: by eating cells alive, piece by piece.

    This is unique? How else do microbes make a living? Amway sales?

  • by MindPrison (864299) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:23AM (#46711221) Journal
    Ah, perfect - now I have an answer for that annoying question people sometimes ask me:

    What's eating you?

    E. histolytica!
  • In other words the parasite equivalent of Taco Bell.
  • Eating fat (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tekoneiric (590239) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @05:28AM (#46712023) Journal
    Why is there never a parasite that eats unwanted fat and sugars then poops useful enzymes and vitamins into it's host's body?
  • Some human strains may have adapted to this and need it to be healthy.

    We already have a similar adaption to worm parasites and without a worm infection those people suffer until they get one.

  • Did they manage to infect Madagascar and Greenland?

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