Illness & Symptoms

Balamuthia infection is a rare and serious illness. The Balamuthia amebas can infect the skin, brain and other organs of the body. Therefore, Balamuthia infection can cause a wide range of symptoms. Disease can begin with a skin wound on the face, trunk, or limbs and can then progress to the brain where it causes a disease called granulomatous amebic encephalitis (GAE).

Diagnosis of Balamuthia GAE can be difficult because symptoms are not specific to GAE. Early symptoms might include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea

Other signs of Balamuthia GAE might include:

  • Mental health changes
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Partial paralysis
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty walking

The disease might appear mild at first but can become more severe over weeks to several months. Often the disease is fatal, with a 90% death rate. Overall, the outlook for people who get this disease is poor, although early diagnosis and treatment may increase the chances for survival.