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Brain eating amoeba - Shanmugam IAS academy in coimbatore
Brain eating amoeba


What’s in news?

A 10-year-old girl from Malappuram district of Kerala has died of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba”.

Key data’s:

  • The infection was diagnosed after her cerebrospinal fluid was sent for lab tests. A similar case had been earlier reported from Alappuzha.
  • Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an infection of the brain caused by Naegleria fowleri.
  • By comparison, in the ten years from 2001 to 2010, there were more than 34,000 drowning deaths in the United States.

Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis:

  • This amoeba is commonly found in lakes, rivers, and soil.
  • It infects people when contaminated water enters their body through the nose, from where it reaches the brain and causes primary amoebic meningoen- cephalitis.


  • Severe frontal headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting are the symptoms in the primary stage.
  • Stiff neck, seizures, altered mental status, hallucinations, and slip into a coma.
  • Mortality rate is comparatively high in this type of infection.

Naegleria fowleri:

  • A free-living microscopic ameba, commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba” or “brain-eating ameba.
  • The ameba is commonly found in warm freshwater and soil.
  • Naegleria fowleri usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose.
  • Naegleria fowleri infection are clinically similar to bacterial meningitis, which lowers the chances of initially diagnosing PAM

How it affects?

  • Infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers.
  • In rare conditions, the infection may be through contaminated waters.
  • Once the ameba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM), which is usually fatal.
  • It is unknown why certain persons become infected with the amebae while millions of others exposed to warm recreational fresh waters do not, including those who were swimming with people who became infected. 

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