homehealthcare NewsFirst death linked to brain eating amoeba reported in South Korea

First death linked to brain-eating amoeba reported in South Korea

First death linked to brain-eating amoeba reported in South Korea
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By CNBCTV18.com Dec 27, 2022 6:03:49 PM IST (Published)

The Naegleria fowleri or ‘brain-eating amoeba’ can infect the brain when contaminated water passes up the nose.

South Korea reported its first death from infection caused by Naegleria fowleri or ‘brain-eating amoeba’ on Monday. A man in his 50s, died 10 days after displaying symptoms of the rare but lethal infection. It is suspected that the man was infected during a trip to Thailand, according to The Korea Times.

Authorities of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) confirmed that the deceased had stayed in Thailand for four months before returning to Korea on December 10 and he died after being infected with Naegleria fowleri.
The patient began to show signs of a brain disease, meningitis, which includes symptoms such as headaches, fever, vomiting, slurred speech, and stiffness of the neck, on the evening of his arrival. He was then transferred to an emergency room the next day and he passed away on December 21.
Naegleria fowleri is a single-celled organism that lives in warm freshwater and is typically found in ponds, lakes and hot springs. If contaminated water is inhaled up the nose, Naegleria fowleri can cause a brain infection known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
The disease progresses rapidly and the first stage is marked by severe headaches, fever, nausea and vomiting. In the second stage, the patient can experience hallucinations, and seizures and can even slip into a coma.
The cause of the man’s death was determined by performing genetic tests on three different infections that cause Naegleria fowleri, as per the Korean health agency. The tests revealed that the man's body contained a gene that was 99.6 percent identical to one discovered in a meningitis patient who suffered from the same infection abroad.
The infection is mostly fatal and as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 4 out of 154 people in the United States have survived infection from 1962 to 2021.
For South Korea, this is the first known infection from the disease. The KDCA has not yet identified the precise method of transmission, but it has stated that the two main sources of infection are swimming in contaminated water and nasal rinsing with infected water.
The KDCA has asked people travelling overseas to take precautions as there are increasing numbers of infections in countries such as the United States, Southeast Asian nations and some European nations.
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