Balamuthia Granulomatous Amebic Encephalitis (GAE) is a serious infection of the brain and spinal cord caused by Balamuthia[1,2,3,4]. GAE is often diagnosed only after death. However, it can be diagnosed by examining blood, cerebrospinal fluid, and tissue samples from a living patient as well. Diagnosis of GAE in a living patient is less common because the amebas are difficult to identify under the microscope, even with commonly used stains.
However, there are three types of tests that can help confirm the diagnosis of GAE. The indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) is a test used to detect antibodies attached to Balamuthia amebas in body tissues. In contrast, immunohistochemistry (IHC) uses specific antibodies against Balamuthia to detect the amebas. Finally, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) molecular assay can detect Balamuthia DNA.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers diagnostic assistance for Balamuthia to physicians and scientists through DPDx.
This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the parasites described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.
- Siddiqui R, Khan NA. Balamuthia amoebic encephalitis: an emerging disease with fatal consequences. Microb Pathog. Feb 2008;44(2):89-97.
- Perez MT, Bush LM. Fatal amebic encephalitis caused by Balamuthia mandrillaris in an immunocompetent host: a clinicopathological review of pathogenic free-living amebae in human hosts. Ann Diagn Pathol. Dec 2007;11(6):440-447.
- Perez MT, Bush LM. Balamuthia mandrillaris amebic encephalitis. Curr Infect Dis Rep. Jul 2007;9(4):323-328.
- Maciver SK. The threat from Balamuthia mandrillaris. J Med Microbiol. Jan 2007;56(Pt 1):1-3.
- Kiderlen AF, Radam E, Lewin A. Detection of Balamuthia mandrillaris DNA by real-time PCR targeting the RNase P gene. BMC Microbiol. 2008;8:210.