Brain-Eating Amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, that Killed Five-Year-Old Girl Kerala Girl

Brain-Eating Amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, that Killed Five-Year-Old Girl Kerala Girl


Malappuram, Kerala: A five-year-old girl named Fadva from Malappuram, Kerala, has tragically died of amoebic meningoencephalitis at the Government Medical College Hospital in Kozhikode. Fadva had been undergoing treatment since May 13 and was kept on ventilator support for over a week. Despite the doctors’ best efforts, she succumbed to the infection. Her condition was caused by the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, a rare but severe brain infection.



What is Naegleria Fowleri, the Brain-Eating Amoeba?

Naegleria fowleri is a tiny organism found in warm freshwater, such as lakes and rivers. It can also be present in soil or untreated water. When people swim or dive in water containing this amoeba, it can enter their bodies through the nose. Once in the nasal passages, Naegleria fowleri can travel to the brain, causing primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a severe brain infection. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this infection spreads quickly and can be deadly if not treated right away.


Symptoms of Naegleria Fowleri Infections

The symptoms of PAM include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and changes in mental state. While infections from this amoeba are rare, it is crucial to take precautions. Avoiding warm freshwater activities, using nose clips, and ensuring water sources are properly treated can help prevent infection.



Treatments for Naegleria Fowleri Infections

Currently, scientists have not found any effective treatments for PAM. Doctors manage the disease with a combination of drugs, including amphotericin B, azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampin, miltefosine, and dexamethasone. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that most people with PAM die within 1 to 18 days after symptoms start. Infected individuals often go into a coma and die within about five days from the onset of symptoms.


How Common Are Naegleria Fowleri Infections?

Infections from Naegleria fowleri are very rare, with only a few cases—0 to 8—reported annually. However, recent unusual instances of infections during intense heat periods have been linked to climate change. Research suggests that Naegleria fowleri infections might not be as rare as once thought. Some people have antibodies to the amoeba, indicating previous exposure and survival. Additionally, some deaths initially attributed to meningitis were later found to be caused by Naegleria fowleri.




The tragic death of young Fadva underscores the dangers of Naegleria fowleri. While infections are rare, they are often deadly. Awareness and precautionary measures are essential to prevent this severe infection.


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