What is brain-eating amoeba, which killed a 5-yr-old girl in Kerala after taking bath in pond?

Webdunia News Desk

Wednesday, 22 May 2024 (12:25 IST)
A five-year-old girl died from brain infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba after taking bath in a pond in Malappuram district of Kerala.

The child from Moonniyur panchayat died on Monday evening at the Institute of Maternal and Child Health, Kozhikode Medical College, where she was undergoing treatment for over a week.

The girl was diagnosed with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a rare brain disease triggered by a free-living amoeba commonly found in polluted water sources.

Following her bath in the nearby pond on May 1, the girl began showing symptoms like fever, headache, and vomiting by May 10.

The child was on a ventilator and was not responding to medication.

Other children who also bath in the same pond were also under observation of doctors. However, they were released after they were found to be free of the infection.

Similar cases of rare brain infection have been reported in the past in coastal Alappuzha district in 2023 and 2017.

What is primary amoebic meningoencephalitis?

Primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is a rare brain infection that is caused by Naegleria fowleri. It is a free-living amoeba or a single-celled living organism.

Naegleria fowleri lives in soil and warm freshwater lakes, rivers, ponds, and hot springs, and infects people when it enters the body through the nose.

It is often called the "brain-eating ameba" because it can infect the brain and destroy brain tissue.

What are the symptoms of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis?

Early symptoms of PAM can include headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. As PAM progresses, symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, and hallucinations.

Most people with PAM die within 1 to 18 days after symptoms begin. It usually leads to coma and death after 5 days.

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