Balamuthia mandrillaris is a free-living amoeba that, like some related amoebae in the genus Acanthamoeba (which it resembles in tissue sections examined by light microscopy), can cause granulomatous amebic encephalitis (GAE), also known as balamuthia amoebic encephalitis (BAE), in individuals with compromised immune systems.
BAE is a serious human disease with fatal consequences and a mortality rate of more than 95% even with available treatments. Unlike Acanthamoeba, Balamuthia can produce encephalitis in relatively immunocompetent individuals, almost always resulting in death. Since its identification in1986 and the first human cases, more than 100 cases of BAE have been reported and the actual number of BAE infections is likely far higher. BAE cases have been reported worldwide. The majority of BAE patients exhibit characteristic skin lesions. Siddiqui and Khan compare the epidemiology and clinical features of infection with B. mandrillaris versus Naegleria fowleri.
(Siddiqui and Khan 2008)
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