Symptoms of Balamuthia Infection

Key points

  • Balamuthia infections can cause a wide range of symptoms.
  • Balamuthia can cause a deadly brain infection called granulomatous amebic encephalitis, or GAE for short.
  • Symptoms of GAE can appear like other diseases, making diagnosing it difficult to diagnose.
Sick woman lying in bed.

Signs and symptoms

Man feeling his head with one hand and reading a thermometer in the other.
Headache, confusion, or fever can be signs of a Balamuthia infection.

Symptoms of a Balamuthia infection sometimes start out as a wound on your face, chest, torso, arms, or legs. The infection can spread to your brain and cause granulomatous amebic encephalitis (GAE), which is nearly always fatal.

Early symptoms of GAE can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea

Other symptoms can include:

  • Changes in your mental status
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Partial paralysis
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty speaking

It can take weeks, even months, to develop symptoms of GAE.

Some people develop very severe symptoms in only a few days. Others might be sick for weeks or months before the illness gets worse.