Acanthamoeba is a genus of free-living amoebae that are found in various environments including soil, water, and air. In humans, Acanthamoeba can cause a number of different infections, particularly in individuals who have weakened immune systems or who wear contact lenses.
There are two main types of Acanthamoeba infections: Acanthamoeba keratitis and Acanthamoeba encephalitis. Acanthamoeba keratitis is an infection of the cornea of the eye and is typically caused by contamination of contact lenses or lens solutions. Symptoms can include eye pain, redness, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. Acanthamoeba encephalitis, on the other hand, is a rare and often fatal infection of the central nervous system. It typically affects individuals who have weakened immune systems and can cause symptoms such as headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and seizures.
Diagnosis of Acanthamoeba infections can be challenging, as symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions, and the amoeba can be difficult to detect. Treatment typically involves a combination of anti-parasitic medications and supportive care.
To prevent Acanthamoeba infections, it is important to follow proper hygiene practices, particularly when using contact lenses. This includes washing your hands thoroughly before handling contact lenses, cleaning and disinfecting lenses properly, and avoiding wearing lenses while swimming or in hot tubs.