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Detection of Balamuthia mandrillaris DNA in the storage case of contact lenses in Germany


Acanthamoeba spp. are frequently the etiological agents of a severe form of sight-threatening keratitis, called Acanthamoeba keratitis. The contact lens storage solution of a patient with keratitis of unknown genesis was screened using our diagnostic tools to detect potentially pathogenic free-living amoebae (FLA). Culture methods and a triplex quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) targeting Acanthamoeba spp., Naegleria fowleri, and Balamuthia mandrillaris were used in context of this routine screening. While no amoebae were detected by culture, qPCR specifically detected DNA of B. mandrillaris. This FLA is known as the etiological agent of a fatal form of encephalitis in humans and other mammals, Balamuthia amoebic encephalitis (BAE). A fragment of the 18S rDNA gene was amplified from the sample and showed 99 % sequence identity to B. mandrillaris sequences from GenBank. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of B. mandrillaris found in association with contact lenses. Although no viable amoeba was obtained by culturing efforts, the verification of B. mandrillaris DNA in the contact lens storage solution demonstrates how easily this pathogen might come into close contact with humans.

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We thank Sebastian Njul for excellent technical assistance and David Lam (Shaman Medical Consulting) for review and English-language editing of the article.

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Correspondence to Patrick L. Scheid.

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Balczun, C., Scheid, P.L. Detection of Balamuthia mandrillaris DNA in the storage case of contact lenses in Germany. Parasitol Res 115, 2111–2114 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-016-4979-4

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  • Balamuthia mandrillaris
  • Contact lense
  • Quantitative real-time PCR