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n. a genus of widely distributed amoebae, of which some species are parasites of the digestive tract of humans. E. histolytica invades and destroys the tissues of the intestinal wall, causing amoebic dysentery and ulceration of the gut wall (see also amoeboma); infection of the liver with this species (amoebic hepatitis) is common in tropical countries. E. coli is a harmless intestinal parasite; E. gingivalis, found within the spaces between the teeth, is associated with periodontal disease and gingivitis.

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