one patient had symptoms of meningitis

South Korea has announced the first death from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a devastating infection caused by the brain-eating amoeba.

The brain-eating amoeba Credit: wikipedia

The brain-eating amoeba Credit: wikipedia

South Korea has announced the first nationwide death of a patient from the brain-eating amoeba. The dramatic case, which involved a person returning from Thailand after a four-month trip, was confirmed by Dr Ji Young-mi in a press release from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the microorganism responsible for the infection – the protist Naegleria fowleri – is present in fresh waters around the world, the cases of brain-eating amoeba that have made international headlines come mainly from the United States, where in recent years there has been an increase in infections, in particular in places where they were previously undetected, such as Iowa and Nebraska. Generally in the USA about ten are registered each year.

The protist Naegleria fowleri is commonly known as the brain-eating amoeba because after infection it attacks the central nervous system, causing swelling, inflammation and tissue destruction, as reported by the authoritative MSD manuals for health professionals. The micro-organism lives mainly in the fresh and slow-moving waters of lakes and ponds, where it can withstand temperatures above 45°C responsible for infections. During swimming, in fact, the amoeba can enter the nose and infect the olfactory mucosa; from there, pushed by the higher temperatures, it travels up the olfactory nerve until it attacks the brain, where it triggers primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAD) or naegleriasis, a very serious infection. It is actually fatal in 97% of cases.

As reported by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the patient returning from Thailand presented to the emergency room with symptoms of meningitis, with fever, headache, vomiting, stiffness of the neck and loss of ability to speak. . His biological samples were subjected to laboratory testing for the causative agent and, from testing the gene (18S rRNA) for three types of protozoa responsible for amoebic encephalitis, a 99.6% match was found. with Naegleria fowleri. The patient unfortunately died on December 21. The age was not communicated, but generally the victims are children. One of the most recent cases involved a 14-year-old from Port Charlotte, Florida, who was rushed to Golisano Children’s Hospital.

The Korean organization specifies that “to prevent infection by Fowler’s free-living amoeba, special precautions should be taken when traveling in areas where it has been reported, refraining from swimming and recreational activities and using clean water. To reduce risk, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) recommends not disturbing the lower substrate when bathing, not diving when the water is too hot, not submerging the head and protect your nose by keeping it closed.

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