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Overview of Free-Living Amebas

By

Richard D. Pearson

, MD, University of Virginia School of Medicine

Last full review/revision May 2019| Content last modified May 2019
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Free-living amebas are protozoa that live independently in soil or water and do not require a human or animal host. They rarely cause disease, in contrast to the parasitic ameba Entamoeba histolytica, which is a common cause of intestinal infection (amebiasis). Pathogenic free-living amebas are of the genera Naegleria, Acanthamoeba, Balamuthia, and Sappinia.

Three major syndromes occur:

Acanthamoeba and Balamuthia can also cause skin lesions or disseminated disease in immunocompromised people; Acanthamoeba can also cause infection of the sinuses or lungs.

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NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: Click here for the Consumer Version
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