Naegleria fowleri: Brain-eating amoeba kills South Korean man: What is the infection

Source: The post is based on the article “Brain-eating amoeba kills South Korean man: What is the infection” published in Indian Express on 30th December 2022

What is the News?

 South Korea has reported its first case of the rare yet fatal infection – Naegleria fowleri or “brain-eating amoeba”.

What is Naegleria fowleri?

Naegleria is a single-celled living organism that is microscopic in existence. 

The free-living amoeba is found all across freshwater systems, including lakes, rivers, and soil. 

However, not all species of amoeba have a killer attitude. It is Naegleria fowleri that infects humans.

Naegleria fowleri thrives in heat and likes warm water because it grows rapidly at high temperatures which can go up to 115 °F (46 °C). They can survive for short periods at even higher temperatures. 

How does Naegleria fowleri infect humans?

The amoeba enters the human body through the nose and then travels up to the brain. In some cases, it was found that people got infected when they cleaned their nostrils with contaminated water.

Once Naegleria fowleri goes to the brain, it destroys brain tissues and causes a dangerous infection known as Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis(PAM).

Note: Scientists haven’t found any evidence of the spreading of Naegleria fowleri through water vapour or aerosol droplets.

What are the symptoms of PAM?

The first signs of PAM start showing within one to 12 days after the infection. In the initial stages, they might be similar to symptoms of meningitis, which are headache, nausea and fever. In the later stages, one can suffer from a stiff neck, seizures, hallucinations, and even coma.

What is the treatment for the infection?

As the Naegleria fowleri infection is rare and progresses quickly, scientists haven’t been able to identify any effective treatments yet. At present, doctors are treating it with a combination of drugs.

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