The parasitic disease, amebiasis, is being pointed to as the cause of an outbreak that sent at least 29 people to the hospital and killing one in Tigania West, Meru county in Central Kenya, according to a local media report.

Image/CDC
Image/CDC

The outbreak affected families–adults and children. A 95-year-old man died.

Initially, cholera was suspected; however, County public health director Ephantus Kariuki ruled out cholera and said a laboratory report showed most residents were suffering from amebiasis. “Most cases were reported on Friday when the holiday began. The lab analysis shows this is amebiasis.”

LISTEN: Parasites 101: Entamoeba histolytica

Amebiasis is a disease caused by the parasite Entamoeba histolytica. It can affect anyone, although it is more common in people who live in tropical areas with poor sanitary conditions. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page.

People mostly get infected with the parasite from ingestion of fecally contaminated food and water containing the amebic cysts. Transmission can also occur through oral-anal contact with a chronically ill or asymptomatic carrier.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 10% to 20% of people who are infected with E. histolytica become sick from the infection. Of those who do become sick, symptoms may include stomach pain, bloody stools (poop), and fever. Rarely, E. histolytica invades the liver and forms an abscess (a collection of pus). In a small number of instances, it has been shown to spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or brain, but this is very uncommon.

Related: