Tragic Third Death: ‘Brain-eating’ Amoeba Claims Life of 14-year-old in Kerala – What You Need to Know!

Tragic Third Death: ‘Brain-eating’ Amoeba Claims Life of 14-year-old in Kerala – What You Need to Know!

Brain-Eating Amoeba : In a tragic turn of events, a 14-year-old boy named Mridul has succumbed to amoebic meningoencephalitis, a rare and fatal brain infection caused by the so-called “brain-eating” amoeba. This incident, which occurred in a private hospital in Kozhikode, marks the third death in Kerala within the past two months due to this deadly infection. The previous victims were a five-year-old girl from Malappuram, who died on May 21, and a 13-year-old girl from Kannur, who passed away on June 25.

Tragic Third Death: ‘Brain-eating’ Amoeba Claims Life of 14-year-old in Kerala – What You Need to Know!

Discover the crucial facts about the deadly 'brain-eating' amoeba infection as Kerala mourns the third tragic death in two months. Learn how to protect yourself from this rare and fatal brain infection.
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Understanding the ‘Brain-eating’ Amoeba

Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is an infection caused by Naegleria fowleri, a type of free-living amoeba. Commonly known as the “brain-eating” amoeba, Naegleria fowleri thrives in warm freshwater environments such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although infections are extremely rare, they are almost always fatal, making awareness and prevention crucial.

How Naegleria Fowleri Spreads

Infections typically occur when individuals swim in warm freshwater bodies where the amoeba is present. The amoeba enters the body through the nose, usually when water is forced up the nasal passages during activities like diving or jumping into water. Once inside the nose, the amoeba travels to the brain, where it causes severe inflammation and tissue destruction. It’s important to note that swallowing contaminated water does not lead to infection, and Naegleria fowleri cannot be spread from person to person.

Symptoms of ‘Brain-eating’ Amoeba Infection

The symptoms of PAM can be devastating and progress rapidly. Early symptoms usually appear within one to nine days after exposure and can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stiff neck

As the infection progresses, more severe symptoms can develop, such as:

  • Confusion
  • Lack of attention to people and surroundings
  • Loss of balance
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Due to the rapid progression of symptoms, timely medical intervention is critical, although the prognosis remains poor even with treatment.

Preventive Measures

Given the severity of Naegleria fowleri infections, taking preventive measures is essential, especially when engaging in activities in warm freshwater bodies. Health authorities recommend the following precautions:

  • Avoid swimming in warm freshwater bodies, particularly during hot weather when water temperatures are higher.
  • Use nose clips or hold your nose shut when diving or jumping into warm freshwater.
  • Avoid stirring up sediment in shallow, warm freshwater areas.
  • Ensure swimming pools and spas are adequately disinfected and maintained.

Past Incidents and Ongoing Concerns

Kerala has previously reported cases of amoebic meningoencephalitis, including incidents in the coastal Alappuzha district in 2023 and 2017. These recurring cases highlight the ongoing risk posed by this deadly amoeba in certain regions. The state health department continues to monitor and advise the public on necessary precautions to prevent further infections.


The recent deaths of three young individuals in Kerala due to the “brain-eating” amoeba have brought attention to the severity of amoebic meningoencephalitis. While infections are rare, their nearly always fatal nature makes awareness and prevention critical. By understanding the risks and taking necessary precautions, we can help protect ourselves and our loved ones from this devastating infection.

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FAQs: Understanding ‘Brain-eating’ Amoeba Infections

What is the ‘brain-eating’ amoeba?

  • The ‘brain-eating’ amoeba is Naegleria fowleri, a free-living amoeba that causes a rare and fatal brain infection known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

Where is Naegleria fowleri found?

  • It is commonly found in warm freshwater environments such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs.

How does Naegleria fowleri infect humans?

  • The amoeba enters the body through the nose, typically when individuals swim in contaminated water and water is forced up the nasal passages.

Can Naegleria fowleri spread from person to person?

  • No, Naegleria fowleri cannot be spread from person to person.

What are the initial symptoms of PAM?

  • Early symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting.

What are the severe symptoms of PAM?

  • Severe symptoms include confusion, lack of attention, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations.

How soon do symptoms appear after exposure?

  • Symptoms typically appear within one to nine days after exposure to contaminated water.

Is there a treatment for PAM?

  • While treatment options are limited and often not effective, prompt medical attention is critical.

How can I protect myself from Naegleria fowleri?

  • Avoid swimming in warm freshwater bodies, use nose clips, avoid stirring up sediment, and ensure proper maintenance of swimming pools and spas.

Are infections with Naegleria fowleri common?

  • No, infections are extremely rare but nearly always fatal.

What should I do if I suspect an infection?

  • Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms after swimming in warm freshwater.

Can Naegleria fowleri survive in chlorinated water?

  • Properly maintained and disinfected pools and spas typically prevent the survival of Naegleria fowleri.

Are there regions more prone to Naegleria fowleri infections?

  • Warm climates with freshwater bodies, like certain areas in Kerala, are more prone to these infections.

Can boiling water kill Naegleria fowleri?

  • Yes, boiling water can kill the amoeba.

Is there ongoing research on Naegleria fowleri?

  • Yes, ongoing research aims to understand the amoeba better and develop effective treatments.

Has Naegleria fowleri been reported outside India?

  • Yes, cases have been reported worldwide, particularly in warm climates.

What steps are being taken by health authorities in Kerala?

  • Health authorities are monitoring the situation and advising the public on preventive measures.

What should I do if I have been exposed to warm freshwater?

  • Monitor for symptoms and seek medical attention if any develop.

Can the amoeba survive in seawater?

  • Naegleria fowleri is not typically found in seawater, as it thrives in warm freshwater.

Why is it called the ‘brain-eating’ amoeba?

  • It is called the ‘brain-eating’ amoeba because it infects the brain and destroys brain tissue, leading to severe and often fatal infections.

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