Brain-Eating Amoeba In Kerala: Latest News, Signs, Treatment, Prevention & More

Brain eating amoeba in Kerala claimed the life of a 14-year-old boy in Kozhikode, Kerala. The child, who was named Mridul, swam in a contaminated pond and then was infected with Naegleria fowleri, which was spread through a free-living amoeba, according to news agency PTI. Since the infection-related death of a 5-year-old Malappuram girl on May 21, there have been three such fatalities in Kerala. Not too long after, a 13-year-old Kannur girl too got infected and passed away on June 25. Keep reading as we discuss what this brain-eating organism is. We also list the signs, treatment and prevention tips for the same.

What is this brain-eating amoeba?

Naegleria fowleri, commonly known as the “brain-eating amoeba,” is a single-celled organism that thrives in warm freshwater environments such as lakes and rivers. It can infect humans when contaminated water enters the body through the nose, typically during activities like swimming or diving.

Once inside the nasal passages, the amoeba can travel to the brain, causing a rare but severe infection known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). PAM is almost always fatal, leading to the destruction of brain tissue and severe inflammation.

Also read: Brain-Eating Amoeba Claims Third Victim In Kerala: How To Prevent Infection 

What are the signs?

Early symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting, which rapidly progress to more severe neurological issues such as seizures, hallucinations, and coma. Due to its rapid progression and high fatality rate, Naegleria fowleri poses a significant health threat when exposure occurs.

What are some ways to prevent it?

Preventing Naegleria fowleri infections involves minimising exposure to warm freshwater sources where the amoeba may be present.

Here are some key prevention tips:

Refrain from swimming or diving in warm freshwater lakes, rivers, and hot springs, especially during the summer when temperatures are higher.If you do swim in such waters, use nose clips to prevent water from entering your nose.For activities like nasal irrigation (e.g., using a neti pot), ensure the water is sterile, distilled, boiled and cooled, or filtered with a filter that can remove amoebas.Be cautious with water sports that involve submerging the head in warm freshwater, such as waterskiing and wakeboarding.If using a wading pool or other shallow water play areas, fill them with safe water and ensure they are cleaned regularly.

By taking these precautions, you can significantly reduce the risk of Naegleria fowleri infection.

Also read: Kerala Boy Dies From Rare Brain-Eating Amoeba After Dip In Pond 

What are the treatment options?

As of now, PAM has no recognised viable treatments. A variety of medications are being used by doctors to treat the illness.

You are advised to follow these preventive measures and contact a healthcare professional if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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