A case of Balamuthia mandrillaris meningoencephalitis

Arch Neurol. 2000 Aug;57(8):1210-2. doi: 10.1001/archneur.57.8.1210.


Balamuthia mandrillaris is a newly described pathogen that causes granulomatous amebic encephalitis, an extremely rare clinical entity that usually occurs in immunosuppressed individuals. We report a case of pathologically proven Balamuthia encephalitis with unusual laboratory and radiologic findings. A 52-year-old woman with idiopathic seizures and a 2-year history of chronic neutropenia of unknown cause had a subacute illness with progressive lethargy, headaches, and coma and died 3 months after the onset of symptoms. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) glucose concentrations were extremely low or unmeasurable, a feature not previously described (to our knowledge). Cranial magnetic resonance imaging scans showed a single large temporal lobe nodule, followed 6 weeks later by the appearance of 18 ring-enhancing lesions in the cerebral hemispheres that disappeared after treatment with antibiotics and high-dose corticosteroids. The initial brain biopsy specimen and analysis of CSF samples did not demonstate amebae, but a second biopsy specimen and the postmortem pathologic examination showed Balamuthia trophozoites surrounded by widespread granulomatous inflammation and vasculitis. The patient's neutropenia and antibiotic use may have caused susceptibility to this organism. Amebic meningoencephalitis should be considered in cases of subacute meningoencephalitis with greatly depressed CSF glucose concentrations and multiple nodular lesions on cerebral imaging. Arch Neurol. 2000;57:1210-1212

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Amebiasis / pathology*
  • Amoeba / isolation & purification*
  • Animals
  • Biopsy
  • Brain Edema / parasitology
  • Brain Edema / pathology
  • Female
  • Granuloma / parasitology*
  • Granuloma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / parasitology
  • Hydrocephalus / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Meningoencephalitis / parasitology*
  • Meningoencephalitis / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutropenia / parasitology