Background. An estimated 1 million children die each year before their fifth birthday from diarrhea. Previous population-based surveys of pediatric diarrheal diseases have identified the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica, the etiological agent of amebiasis, as one of the causes of moderate-to-severe diarrhea in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Methods. We prospectively studied the natural history of E. histolytica colonization and diarrhea among infants in an urban slum of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Results. Approximately 80% of children were infected with E. histolytica by the age of 2 years. Fecal anti-galactose/N-acetylgalactosamine lectin immunoglobulin A was associated with protection from reinfection, while a high parasite burden and expansion of the Prevotella copri level was associated with diarrhea.
Conclusions. E. histolytica infection was prevalent in this population, with most infections asymptomatic and diarrhea associated with both the amount of parasite and the composition of the microbiota.