Atlas of foodborne infections
transmitted by contaminated food and water

Atlas of Patogens Contents Information sources Glossary Administration


CZ: akantaméba
EN: acanthamoeba



Foodborne Disease:
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Members of the two genera – Acanthamoeba spp. and Naegleria fowleri are the principal examples of protozoa commonly referred to as pathogenic free-living amoebae. They can cause primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), granulomatious amoebic encephalitis (GAE), acanthamoebic keratitis or acanthamoebic uveitis. These organisms are ubiquitous in the environment, in soil, water, and air. Infections in humans are rare and are acquired through water entering the nasal passages (usually during swimming) and by inhalation.

PAM occurs in persons who are generally healthy prior to infection. Central nervous system involvement arises from organisms that penetrate the nasal passages and enter the brain through the cribriform plate.The organisms can multiply in the tissues of the central nervoussystem and may be isolated from spinal fluid. In untreated cases death occurs within 1 week of the onset of symptoms.

GAE occurs in persons who are immunodeficient in some way; the organisms cause granulomatous encephalitis that leads to death in several weeks to a year after the appearance of symptoms.

The primary infection site is thought to be the lungs, and the organisms in the brain are generally associated with blood vessels, suggesting vascular dissemination. Treatment with sulfamethazine may be effective in controlling the amoeba.

PAM is diagnosed by the presence of amoebae in the spinal fluid. GAE is diagnosed by biopsy of the lesion. PAM and GAE both lead to death in most cases. Eye infections may lead to blindness. Foods are not analyzed for these amoebae since foods are not implicated in the infection of individuals.


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