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Diagnosis

Several trophozoites of B. mandrillaris in brain tissue, stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E).

Several trophozoites of B. mandrillaris in brain tissue, stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E). Photo credit: DPDx, CDC

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[5].

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[5].

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.


References
  1. Siddiqui R, Khan NA. Balamuthia amoebic encephalitis: an emerging disease with fatal consequences. Microb Pathog. Feb 2008;44(2):89-97.
  2. 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.
  3. Perez MT, Bush LM. Balamuthia mandrillaris amebic encephalitis. Curr Infect Dis Rep. Jul 2007;9(4):323-328.
  4. Maciver SK. The threat from Balamuthia mandrillaris. J Med Microbiol. Jan 2007;56(Pt 1):1-3.
  5. 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.
 
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