Health Update: What is Naegleria fowleri!


What is Brain Eating Amoeba: A 14-year-old boy named Mridul died of a rare brain infection in Kozhikode, Kerala. According to the news agency PTI, after swimming in a contaminated pond, he got 'Naegleria Fowleri Infection' which is caused by 'brain-eating amoeba'. This is the third such case in the care after May 1. Earlier, a 5-year-old girl in Malappuram and a 13-year-old girl in Kannur have died.


What is Naegleria fowleri?

The Naegleria fowleri amoeba is a tiny organism found in warm freshwater such as lakes, ponds, rivers and hot springs, as well as in soil and untreated water. Swimming or diving in contaminated water can make it easier for the amoeba to enter the nose and travel to the brain. It causes a serious and often fatal infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it spreads rapidly and must be treated immediately.

How to tell if you are infected with Naegleria fowleri while swimming

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, if we do not want to be at risk of 'brain eating amoeba' while swimming, then many important steps can be taken for this.

1. Avoid water activities during summer when water temperature is high and water level is low, as these conditions favour Naegleria fowleri infection.

2. Use a nose clip or keep your nose closed if you jump, swim, or dive into the water.

3. Always keep your head above water in hot springs and other geothermal waters

4.  Avoid disturbing sediments in warm fresh water, as Naegleria fowleri is more likely to be found in sediments at the bottom of lakes, ponds and rivers

Symptoms of Naegleria fowleri

Symptoms of the disease include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and changes in mental status. According to the CDC, most patients with PAM die within 1 to 18 days after symptoms appear. Infected people usually go into a coma and die about five days after symptoms begin.

What is the treatment for brain eating amoeba infection?

There is no effective treatment for primary amoebic meningoencephalitis yet. Currently, doctors use a combination of drugs such as amphotericin B, azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampin, miltefosine, and dexamethasone to manage the disease.