acantho-, acanth-, -acanth, -acanths, -acanthid, -acanthous
(Greek: used either as a prefix or as a suffix; pointed appendages; spine, spiny; thorn, thorny)
2. A decoration or trimming that has been carved or engraved in the shape of the leaves of the Mediterranean plant: An acanth was placed on a Corinthian column of the capital.
2. The spine: The vertebrae in a person is called the acantha because of the many pointed segments.
3. In biology, a spike-like structure or spiny protrusion on a plant or animal: A wild rosebush has many acanthas, or thorns, that are quite similar to needles.
Bill read in his book about acanthas on insects being sharp projections, normally as a one-celled epidermal growth and lacking cells for the senses.
There are two specific species, which are the trophozoite, metabolically active, and a cyst, which is dormant and stress-resistant. These species can cause the infection termed acanthamebiasis.
The acanthamoeba does not produce a flagellate stage. Its organisms are pathogens for several infections in humans and have been found in the eye, bone, brain, and respiratory tract.
They can enter the skin through a cut, wound, or through the nostrils and, once inside the body, can travel to the lungs and through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, especially to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Through improper storage, handling, and disinfection of contact lenses, acanthamoebae can enter the eye and cause an infection there.
A particularly dire infection caused by acanthamoebae, called granulomatous amebic encephalitis, is characterized by a headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, confusion, loss of balance, seizures, and coma that can progress over several weeks and end in death.
In popular use, the name is chiefly native to the shores of the Mediterranean, and cultivated in England, and is celebrated among the Greeks and Romans for the elegance of its leaves.