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All about Naegleria Fowleri, brain-eating Amoeba that killed Kerala girl

All about Naegleria Fowleri, brain-eating Amoeba that killed Kerala girl

All about Naegleria Fowleri, brain-eating Amoeba that killed Kerala girl

Mangalore Today News Network

New Delhi, May 22, 2024: A five-year-old girl from Malappuram, Kerala, has died of amoebic meningoencephalitis at the Government Medical College Hospital Kozhikode. The girl, Fadva, had been undergoing treatment since May 13. She was kept on ventilator support for over a week, and despite the doctor’s best efforts, the girl died. Her condition, Amoebic meningoencephalitis, was caused by the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, a rare but severe brain infection.

Brain eating Ameba

About Naegleria fowleri, the brain-eating amoeba

The Naegleria fowleri amoeba is a tiny organism found in warm freshwater like lakes and rivers. It can also be found in soil or untreated water. When people swim or dive in water containing this amoeba, it can enter their bodies through the nose. Once in the nasal passages, Naegleria fowleri can travel to the brain, resulting in inflammation of the brain tissue and causing a severe infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), as per the Cleveland Clinic. This infection spreads quickly and can be deadly if not treated right away.

Infections by Naegleria fowleri: Symptoms

Symptoms of PAM include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and changes in mental state. While infections from this amoeba are rare, it is important to take precautions such as avoiding warm freshwater activities, using nose clips and making sure water sources are properly treated.

Infections by Naegleria fowleri: Treatments

Scientists have not found any effective treatments for PAM yet. Currently, doctors have been managing the disease with a combination of drugs, including amphotericin B, azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampin, miltefosine and dexamethasone.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that most people with PAM die within 1 to 18 days after symptoms start to appear. People infected with it will go into a coma and die within about five days from the onset of symptoms, the centre said.

Are Naegleria fowleri infections common?

Infections from Naegleria fowleri are rare, with only a handful of cases – 0 to 8 – reported annually. In recent times, however, there have been unusual instances of infections during periods of intense heat, which experts say is due to climate change.

Research has raised doubts about how rare Naegleria fowleri infections are. Some people have antibodies to the amoeba, meaning they have been exposed to it before and survived. Besides that, some deaths thought to be from meningitis were later found to be caused by Naegleria fowleri.

Another interesting revelation is that some people don’t get infected, despite being in similar situations or exposed to similar conditions as those who do.

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