In a shocking news, a man in South Florida died after he used tap water to rinse his nose. The man, a resident of Charlotte County, died on February 20, three days before the health department issued a public alert about the infection. It was later revealed that the man died from Naegleria fowleri, which had claimed the life of a man in South Korea last year.
It causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which affected the central nervous system. The infection damages brain tissue.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Naegleria fowleri is a type of amoeba (single-celled living organism) that is found in warm freshwater environments like lakes, rivers and hot springs. It can infect the brain when amoeba-containing water passes up the nose and therefore it is also known as the ‘brain-eating amoeba’. It is a rare disease, however, it is almost always fatal.
Infection occurs when water containing Naegleria fowleri enters the nose and the amoeba migrates to the brain through the olfactory nerve. It is to be noted that people are not infected by drinking contaminated water if it doesn’t go up the nose.
The symptoms of the disease appear one to 12 days after the exposure to Naegleria-containing water. According to the CDC, people die one to 18 days after symptoms appear. Severe frontal headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, seizures, hallucinations and coma are some of the symptoms caused by the amoeba.
Also Read: South Korea Registers First Death Linked to ‘Brain-Eating Amoeba’
Amphotericin B, azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampin, miltefosine and dexamethasone are commonly used to treat primary amebic meningoencephalitis. These medications are used because they are thought to have anti-Naegleria fowleri activity and have been used to treat patients who have survived the illness.
The CDC added, “No data exists to accurately estimate the true risk of PAM. 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.”
It is to be noted that attempts have been made to determine the level of Naegleria fowleri in the environment that poses an unacceptable risk. There is currently no method for measuring the number of amoebae in the water that is accurate.
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