Acanthamoeba are microscopic amoeba commonly found in the environment worldwide. Most commonly, Acanthamoeba are found in the soil and dust, in fresh water sources such as lakes, rivers, hot springs, hot tubs, brackish water, and in sea water. Amoeba can also be found in Heating, Venting, and Air Conditioner units (HVAC), humidifiers, and dialysis units.

Acanthamoeba can enter the skin through a cut, wound, or through the nostrils. Once inside the body, amoeba can travel to the lungs and through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, especially the brain and spinal cord.
Through improper storage, handling, and disinfection of contact lenses, Acanthamoeba can enter the eye and cause a serious infection.

Acanthamoeba can cause skin lesions and/or a systemic infection. Acanthamoeba cause a serious, most often deadly infection called granulomatous amebic encephalitis (GAE). Once infected, a person may suffer with headaches, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, tiredness, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance and bodily control, seizures, and hallucinations. Signs and symptoms progresses over several weeks; death generally occurs.

Eye and skin infections are generally treatable. However, infections of the brain with Acanthamoeba are almost always fatal.

More Information: