First Death Linked to Brain-Eating Amoeba
Recently, the first case of death from infection with Naegleria fowleri, or “brain-eating amoeba”, has been reported in South Korea.
- A 50-year-old Korean man who returned from Thailand died 10 days after showing symptoms of a rare but deadly infection, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
- The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported that he died due to infection with Naegleria fowleri.
- According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Naegleria is an amoeba, i.e. a single-celled organism, and has only one species named “Naegleria fowleri”. It can infect humans.
- It was first discovered in Australia in 1965 and is commonly found in warm fresh water bodies such as hot springs, rivers and lakes.
- Amoeba enters the human body through the nose and then enters the brain. It can usually enter the body when someone goes for a swim, or dives or even when he submerges his body in fresh water.
- In some cases, it was found that people got infected after cleaning their nostrils with contaminated water.
- Scientists have found no evidence of transmission of Naegleria fowleri through water vapor or aerosol droplets.
- Once Naegleria fowleri enters the brain, it destroys brain tissue and causes a dangerous infection known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
- The initial symptoms of PAM begin to appear within one to 12 days after infection. In the early stages, they can be similar to the symptoms of meningitis, which are headache, nausea, and fever.
- In the later stages, the person may also suffer from stiff neck, seizures, hallucinations and may even go into a coma.
- According to the US Public Health Agency, the infection spreads rapidly and causes death within about five days on average.
- Why PAM is so deadly can be gauged from the fact that only four of the 154 known infected individuals in the United States from 1962 to 2021 survived.
- Because Naegleria fowleri infection is rare and progresses rapidly, scientists have not yet found any effective treatment.
- Currently, doctors treat it with a combination of drugs including amphotericin B, azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampin, miltefosine, and dexamethasone.
Source – Indian Express