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Naegleria fowleri

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    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.

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