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Balamuthia mandrillaris is a free-living soil ameba that was first reported in 1990 to cause amebic meningoencephalitis in both baboons and humans.

Cyst of Balamuthia mandrillaris

B.mandrillaris amoebic encephalitis (BAE) is more frequently found in warmer regions such as Southern California and South America.

Up till now, only over 200 cases of B.mandrillaris infections were reported around the world and the mortality rate is over 95%. Very few cases have been reported in Asia, let alone in China.

In a report in the journal, Infection, Genetics and Evolution,  researchers describe a fatal case in a 15 -year-old male from Guizhou Province, China.

He was admitted in May 2019 due to fever and altered mental status over the past week. His symptoms, treatment and testing are described in detail in the paper.

He did progress into a coma and died due to multiple organ failure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Balamuthia infection is very rare. The Balamuthia amoebas can infect the skin, sinuses, brain and other organs of the body. The disease might appear mild at first but can become more severe over weeks to several months. Often the disease is fatal, with a death rate of more than 95%.