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Acanthamoeba PCR & Culture



Nucleic acid amplification assay (PCR) for the detection of Acanthamoeba DNA, the reference laboratory will also attempt to culture for Acanthamoeba.


To aid in the diagnosis of  Acanthamoeba keratitis, which is made based on the clinical picture and the detection of Acanthamoeba DNA from corneal scrapes or contact lenses.


Acanthamoeba keratitis is rare but serious infection of the cornea of the eye caused by Acanthamoeba that if left untreated can lead to vision loss and/or blindness.

Acanthamoeba are a type of microscopic single-celled organism known as amoeba, which can be found widely in the environment e.g. bodies of water (rivers, lakes, oceans, pools & hot tubs) as well as domestic tap water and soil.


Contact lens and /or wash fluids.

Scalpel blades from corneal scrapes / needles & biopsies.

Specimen Container

Sterile container, e.g. white top universal pot (see picture)

How To Request On EPIC

For electronic requesting using EPIC (RDUH ONLY):

For Corneal Scrapes:

Search for: ‘Corneal scrape‘ or test code ‘LAB9237‘ the test name is ‘Corneal scrape MC&S

  • You will be asked on the request ‘Is testing for Acanthamoeba also required?’ – answer yes and follow the instructions.

For Contact Lenses:

Search for: ‘Medical device‘ or test code ‘LAB240‘ the test name is ‘Medical Device MC&S

  • Select Contact lens as the sample type
  • State that Acanthamoeba testing is required in the clinical details

Special Instructions

Dry samples (i.e. samples other than contact lens fluid) should be covered in approximately 200ul of sterile saline.


Sent to reference laboratory – Diagnostic Parasitology Laboratory, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Turnaround Time

Up to 7 working days once received at the reference laboratory.

Urgent Specimen Instructions

Please contact the microbiology laboratory.

Useful Links

Ophthalmology (West of England Eye Unit)

For Patients:

Acanthamoeba Keratitis – Fight for Sight

For Healthcare professionals:

Acanthamoeba Keratitis – The College of Optometrists

Diagnostic Parasitology Laboratory – London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Diagnostic Parasitology Laboratory – User Handbook

Specimen Labelling Procedure
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