Science & Technology
14th Jul, 2023
A 15-year-old boy in Kerala has died due to a rare infection caused by Naegleria fowleri or “brain-eating amoeba”.
What is Naegleria fowleri?
- Naegleria fowleri, commonly known as “brain-eating amoeba,” is a single-cell organism found in a warm freshwater environment such as lakes, hot springs and even in poorly maintained swimming pools.
- It is so small that it can only be seen with a microscope. Only one species of Naegleria, Naegleria fowleri, infects people.
- The amoeba enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain, leading to a severe and usually fatal brain infection known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
- Although the amoeba becomes vulnerable in its maturing or trophozoite phase, as a cyst it becomes resistant to its environment. It grows best at temperatures above 46 degree celsius.
- Although trophozoites are killed rapidly by refrigeration, cysts can survive even extreme cold.
- Naegleria fowleri infection does not spread from person to person, nor does it manifest symptoms when contracted in other forms.
- Cause: Poorly maintained swimming pools or contaminated water sources increase the risk of exposure.
- Teatment:A combination of drugs, often including amphotericin B, azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampin, miltefosine, and dexamethasone
Survival of Amoeba:
- Amoeba is known to thrive in any natural environment, particularly in warm water habitats. It survives on bacteria found in the sediment in lakes and rivers.
- However, it doesn’t survive in saline conditions and is hence not found in sea water.