Amoebic meningoencephalitis: What is the disease that affected five-year old in Kerala's Malappuram?

Amoebic meningoencephalitis is caused by a variety of amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, found in rivers, lakes and hot springs. Photo:

A five-year-old girl from Malappuram was recently admitted to Government Medical College, Kozhikode, after being diagnosed with the rare disease Amoebic meningoencephalitis (Amoebic Masthishkajwaram). It is caused by a variety of amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, which is found in rivers, lakes and hot springs. It is suspected that she got infected after taking bath in a nearby river. Experts say that if this amoeba enters the body through our nose while swimming, it travels to our brain and destroys brain tissues. It eventually leads to fever, vomiting, stiff neck, headache, hallucinations and seizures. The infection is generally fatal and there are only a few cases of survival, according to reports. 

Preventative measures
1) As the amoeba is generally found in warm freshwater bodies that are not cleaned or chlorinated properly, avoid swimming or bathing in them during the summer. If you can't avoid the exposure, use nose clips or shut your nose with your hands to prevent nasal passage of water. Avoid swimming in stagnant waters, poorly chlorinated swimming pools, rivers, lakes and similar waterbodies during summer. 
2) Take adequate medical care if you suspect you have symptoms of the infection. Early medical intervention is extremely critical to recover from the infection.

3) While it is true that finding safe water is challenging during the summer months, educate yourself about water bodies and regions where the water quality is good. Also, pay attention to local health alerts and advisories, before using the waterbodies for regular or recreational purposes. 

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