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Tragic Death in Alappuzha: Brain-Eating Amoeba Claims the Life of Teenager

Correspondent Correspondent
Friday, July 07, 2023
Tragic Death in Alappuzha: Brain-Eating Amoeba Claims the Life of Teenager
Tragic Death of Teenager in Alappuzha as Brain-Eating Amoeba Claims a Life.

Alappuzha, Kerala: A devastating incident unfolded in the district of Alappuzha as a Class X student lost his life to Naegleria fowleri, a notorious amoeba known as the "brain-eating amoeba." The young teenager, who had been hospitalized since Sunday, tragically passed away on Friday, according to his grieving family.

Gurudath (15), the son of Shalini and Anil Kumar, residents of Poochakkal in Alappuzha, is believed to have contracted the brain-eating amoeba during a swim in a local brook.

Naegleria is a type of free-living amoeba, a single-celled organism, commonly found in warm freshwater environments such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs, as well as soil. The particular species that poses a threat to humans is known as Naegleria fowleri.

Once Naegleria fowleri infiltrates the human body, it causes a severe infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which ultimately leads to the victim's demise. This disease had previously been reported in Alappuzha back in 2017, as noted in a report by Malayala Manorama.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Naegleria fowleri infects individuals when water containing the amoeba enters their body through the nose. This typically occurs during activities like swimming, diving, or submerging the head underwater in lakes and rivers. It's important to note that the amoeba does not pose a risk when ingested through contaminated water.

Upon entry into the body, the amoeba travels through the nasal passage and reaches the brain, where it ravages brain tissue and causes the fatal infection known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Regrettably, PAM is almost always fatal.

The initial symptoms of PAM usually manifest around 5 days after infection, but they can appear within a range of 1 to 12 days. Common symptoms include headaches, fever, nausea, and vomiting. As the disease progresses, more severe symptoms may arise, such as a stiff neck, confusion, disorientation, seizures, hallucinations, and even coma.

Once symptoms become apparent, the disease rapidly advances, typically resulting in death within approximately 5 days. In rare cases, some patients may survive up to 18 days, as stated by the CDC.