Entameoba histolytica, 1 of the 2 Entamoeba species with similar morphology that infect humans, causes invasive intestinal and extraintestinal diseases, whereas Entamoeba dispar is found commensally and is noninvasive. Because of their morphologic similarity, E. histolytica and E. dispar cannot be differentiated microscopically. The antigens of E. histolytica and E. dispar, however, may be detected by the ELISA method. Previous studies have found that the detection of antigens in the stool is as sensitive and specific as cultures and isoenzyme analyses. Stool samples from 272 patients with diarrhea in the province of Mersin, Turkey, were examined for the presence of Entamoeba species microscopically and for Entamoeba (E. histolytica/E. dispar) antigens using the ELISA method. An E. histolytica–specific ELISA test was used to examine 29 E. histolytica/E. dispar– positive samples. Twenty-four (8.82%) of the samples tested positive for E. histolytica/E. dispar by trichrome staining, and 29 (10.6%) of the samples tested positive for E. histolytica/E. dispar by the Entamoeba screening test. Entamoeba histolytica was positive in 21 (7.72%) and E. dispar positive in 8 (2.94%) samples. The detection of true E. histolytica infection is possible with the use of E. histolytica–specific antigen ELISA tests. Thus, real cases of amoebiasis can be detected and treated, and overtreatment of the patients with E. dispar, which is the nonpathogenic species, will be prevented.

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