|Description:||This scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image revealed some of the ultrastructural features seen on the surface of a number of Acanthamoeba polyphaga protozoa. Note the amorphous nature of the organisms’ 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.