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Description:This scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image revealed some of the ultrastructural features seen on the surface of an Acanthamoeba polyphaga protozoan. Note the amorphous nature of the organism’s exterior from which pseudopodia, from the Latin pseudo = false, and podia = feet, can extend. These pseudopodia enable the amoeba to move about, and grasp objects in its environment.

Acanthamoeba is a microscopic, free-living ameba that is relatively common in the environment. This ameba has been isolated from water (including natural and treated water in pools or hot tubs), soil, air (in association with cooling towers, heating, ventilation and air conditioner [HVAC] systems), sewage systems, and drinking water systems (shower heads, taps). Most people will be exposed to Acanthamoeba during their lifetime and will not get sick. However, Acanthamoeba is capable of causing several infections in humans.
Acanthamoeba keratitis – A local infection of the eye that typically occurs in healthy persons and can result in permanent visual impairment or blindness.

Granulomatous Amebic Encephalitis (GAE) – A serious infection of the brain and spinal cord that typically occurs in persons with a compromised immune system.

Disseminated infection – A widespread infection that can affect the skin, sinuses, lungs, and other organs independently or in combination. It is also more common in persons with a compromised immune system.

High Resolution: Click here for hi-resolution image (5.49 MB)
Content Providers(s):CDC/ Catherine Armbruster; Margaret Williams
Creation Date:2009
Photo Credit:Janice Haney Carr
Links:CDC - Acanthamoeba Infection
CDC – Div. of Parasitic Diseases, DPDx; Free-living Amebic Infections; Life Cycle of Acanthamoeba spp.
CDC Organization
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Copyright Restrictions:None - This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image.