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Amoeba Blamed in 2 More Organ Transplant Deaths

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Balamuthia mandrillaris (CDC)

U.S. health officials say two Arizona organ transplant recipients died of an infection from a microscopic parasite they got from their organ donor.

The deaths are the second confirmed cluster of tranplant-related encephalitis caused by Balamuthia mandrillaris, an amoeba found in soil. It is especially dangerous to people undergoing organ transplants and who have weakened immune systems. The first cluster occurred in Mississippi last year.

The donor, a 27-year-old male landscaper, died in Arizona in July from what doctors believed was a stroke. A 56-year-old male liver recipient died Aug. 17. A 24-year-old male kidney and pancreas recipient died Aug. 30. 

Two other recipients, one who got a heart and another a kidney, are alive and without symptoms.