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Clinicians: CDC now has an investigational drug called miltefosine available for treatment of free-living ameba (FLA) infections caused by Naegleria fowleri, Balamuthia mandrillaris, and Acanthamoeba species. If you have a patient with suspected FLA infection, please contact the CDC Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 to consult with a CDC expert regarding the use of this drug.

Trophozoites of B. mandrillaris in culture.

Trophozoites of B. mandrillaris in culture. Photo credit: DPDx, CDC

Although there have been more than 200 cases of Balamuthia infection worldwide, few patients are known to have survived as a result of successful drug treatment[1,2]. Early diagnosis and treatment might increase the chances for survival[3].

Drugs used in treating Granulomatous Amebic Encephalitis (GAE) caused by Balamuthia have included a combination of flucytosine, pentamidine, fluconazole, sulfadiazine and either azithromycin or clarithromycin[1,2,4,5]. Recently, miltefosine in combination with some of these other drugs has shown some promise[2]. Much more information is needed in treating patients with GAE due to Balamuthia.

  1. Perez MT, Bush LM. Balamuthia mandrillaris amebic encephalitis. Curr Infect Dis Rep. Jul 2007;9(4):323-328.
  2. Martinez DY, Seas C, Bravo F, et al. Successful treatment of Balamuthia mandrillaris amoebic infection with extensive neurological and cutaneous involvement. Clin Infect Dis. Jul 15 2010;51(2):e7-11.
  3. Siddiqui R, Khan NA. Balamuthia amoebic encephalitis: an emerging disease with fatal consequences. Microb Pathog. Feb 2008;44(2):89-97.
  4. Cary LC, Maul E, Potter C, et al. Balamuthia mandrillaris meningoencephalitis: survival of a pediatric patient. Pediatrics. Mar 2010;125(3):e699-703.
  5. Drugs for Parasitic Infections: The Medical Letter; 2010.
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