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J Infect Dis. 1999 May;179(5):1305-8.

Serum antibodies to Balamuthia mandrillaris, a free-living amoeba recently demonstrated to cause granulomatous amoebic encephalitis.

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Section of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Rush Medical Colege, Rush Prebysterian-St Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


Free-living amoebae cause three well-defined disease entities: a rapidly fatal primary meningoencephalitis, a chronic granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE), and a chronic amoebic keratitis. GAE occurs in immunocompromised persons. Recently, another type of free-living amoeba, Balamuthia mandrillaris, has been shown to cause GAE. The finding that this amoeba has caused infection in some healthy children has raised the possibility that humans may lack immunity to B. mandrillaris. Human serum was examined for the presence of surface antibodies specific for this amoeba by immunofluorescence. Sera from adults contained titers of 1/64-1/256 of anti-B. mandrillaris antibodies (IgM and IgG classes), which did not cross-react with other amoebae. Cord blood contained very low antibody levels, but levels similar to those in adults were seen in serum of 1- to 5-year-old children.

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