Parasites & vectors 2017 01 0710(1) 14 doi 10.1186/s13071-016-1950-2
Since 1985, amoebic liver abscess (ALA) has been a public health problem in northern Sri Lanka. Clinicians arrive at a diagnosis based on clinical and ultrasonographic findings, which cannot differentiate pyogenic liver abscess (PLA) from ALA. As the treatment and outcome of the ALA and PLA differs, determining the etiological agent is crucial.
All clinically diagnosed ALA patients admitted to the Teaching Hospital (TH) in Jaffna during the study period were included and the clinical features, haematological parameters, and ultrasound scanning findings were obtained. Aspirated pus, blood, and faecal samples from patients were also collected. Pus and faeces were examined microscopically for amoebae. Pus was cultured in Robinson’s medium for amoebae, and MacConkey and blood agar for bacterial growth. ELISA kits were used for immunodiagnosis of Entamoeba histolytica infection. DNA was extracted from selected pus samples and amplified using nested PCR and the purified product was sequenced.
From July 2012 to July 2015, 346 of 367 clinically diagnosed ALA patients admitted to Jaffna Teaching Hospital were enrolled in this study. Almost all patients (98.6%) were males with a history of heavy alcohol consumption (100%). The main clinical features were fever (100%), right hypochodric pain (100%), tender hepatomegaly (90%) and intercostal tenderness (60%). Most patients had leukocytosis (86.7%), elevated ESR (85.8%) and elevated alkaline phosphatase (72.3%). Most of the abscesses were in the right lobe (85.3%) and solitary (76.3%) in nature. Among the 221 (63.87%) drained abscesses, 93.2% were chocolate brown in colour with the mean volume of 41.22 ± 1.16 ml. Only four pus samples (2%) were positive for amoeba by culture and the rest of the pus and faecal samples were negative microscopically and by culture. Furthermore, all pus samples were negative for bacterial growth. Antibody against E. histolytica (99.7%) and the E. histolytica antigen were detected in the pus samples (100%). Moreover, PCR and sequencing confirmed these results.
To our knowledge, this is the first report from Sri Lanka that provides immunological and molecular confirmation that Entamoeba histolytica is a common cause of liver abscesses in the region.