What is Brain Eating Amoeba?

Why in News?

Recently in Kerala, a five-year-old girl tragically passed away after swimming in the contaminated water of a pond. The girl died due to a rare infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba.

The child passed away at the Kozhikode Medical College’s Institute of Maternal and Child Health.

ALSO READ- ‘What is Brain Eating Amoeba?’ in Hindi…

What is Brain Eating Amoeba?

The scientific name of the brain-eating amoeba is ‘Naegleria fowleri’. It is a species of the genus Naegleria. Only one species of Naegleria, Naegleria fowleri, infects people.

Domain
Eukaryota
PhylumPercolozoa
Class
Heterolobosea
Order
Schizopyrenida
Family
Vahlkampfiidae
Genus
Naegleria
SpeciesN. fowleri

It is a single-celled organism found in warm freshwater environments like lakes, hot springs and poorly maintained swimming pools. It is so small that it can only be seen with a microscope. Warm summer water is ideal for the microorganism. It multiplies faster in warm environments.

How It Affects the Body-

The amoeba enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain, causing a severe and usually fatal brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis and this affects the brain by causing inflammation and destruction of brain tissue. The infection does not spread from person to person.

Symptoms-

Symptoms often strike within a week of infection, causing intense headaches, fever, nausea, confusion seizures and hallucinations may also occur. As the infection progresses, the patient can slip into a coma and ultimately die.

Prevention-

  • Avoid warm freshwater bodies with inadequate chlorination.
  • Use nose clips during water-related activities.
  • Use sterile water for nasal cleansing.
  • People who have a weakened immune system, have a history of nose or sinus problems or engage in activities that involve contact with hot freshwater are at greater risk.

There have been 20 reported cases of PAM in India, with this case but there is no permanent cure for this infection till now. Doctors are currently treating the disease with a mix of medications, including amphotericin B, azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampin, miltefosine, and dexamethasone.