A rare case of brain-eating amoeba reported in the US

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on July 06, 2020

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The United States has reported a case of rare brain-eating amoeba in the State of Florida.

“The Florida Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed one Florida case infected with Naegleria fowleri in Hillsborough County. Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic single-celled living amoeba. The amoeba can cause a rare infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) that destroys brain tissue and is usually fatal,” the Florida Department of Health had said in an official post.

The single-cell amoeba can cause a fatal infection to the infected person’s brain. It is most commonly found in fresh warm water. The Health Department did not provide much information as to how the patient had contracted the amoeba or their condition.

Person to person transmission of the amoeba is not possible. The infection is pretty rare and is often seen in southern U.S. states.

Infections are typically seen in southern U.S. states. They are rare in Florida, where only 37 cases have been reported since 1962.

Symptoms of the infection include headache, fever, nausea, disorientation, vomiting, stiff neck, seizures, loss of balance, or hallucinations. The DoH has issued an advisory for people to prevent such infections. This includes avoiding nasal contact with water bodies containing warm freshwaters such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals, especially in the warmer summer months of July, August and September.

“Though there are only 37 reported cases with exposure in Florida since 1962, DOH cautions those who swim and frequently dive in Florida’s lakes, rivers and ponds during warm temperatures about the possible presence of Naegleria fowleri. Adverse health effects on humans can be prevented by avoiding nasal contact with the waters since the amoeba enters through the nasal passages,” the health department said.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Naegleria fowleri infections are rare in the country.

“Naegleria fowleri infections are rare. In the ten years from 2009 to 2018, 34 infections were reported in the U.S. Of those cases, 30 people were infected by recreational water, 3 people were infected after performing nasal irrigation using contaminated tap water, and one person was infected by contaminated tap water used on a backyard slip-n-slide,” reads the CDC website.

Published on July 06, 2020

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