Definition: A genus of free-living soil, water, and sewage ameba (order Schizopyrenida, family Vahlkampfiidae) one species of which, Naegleria fowleri, has been implicated as the causative agent of the rapidly fatal primary amebic meningoencephalitis. Infection has been traced to swimming pools (including indoor chlorinated pools); entry is by the nasal mucosa, from which the amebae reach the meninges and brain through the cribriform plate and olfactory nerves. Other soil amebae that have been implicated, although of far less epidemiologic significance, include the genera Acanthamoeba and Hartmanella, the latter is a suspected but unproved causative agent.
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