Acanthamoeba keratitis increasing at alarming rate

January 1, 2006

Chicago—Ophthalmologists at the Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, are warning their colleagues about a recent dramatic increase in cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis seen at their institution.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Fabiano N. Rocha, MD, reported on 19 patients who had this infection diagnosed between January 2004 and August 2005. Ten of the cases were seen during the last 5 months of the 20-month study period.

In contrast, there were 11 cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis at the Wills Eye Hospital between 1999 and 2003.

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Dr. Rapuano is professor of ophthalmology, Wills Eye Hospital, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, and is a co-author of the study. The lead author is Kristin M. Hammersmith, MD, instructor of ophthalmology, Wills Eye Hospital, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University.

Information on history, risk factors, method of diagnosis, response to treatment, and complications was collected for all patients through a retrospective chart review.

At the time of presentation to Wills Eye Hospital, nearly three-fourths of the patients had been misdiagnosed as having herpes simplex virus (HSV) keratitis and had received steroids.