A 10-year-old girl from Malappuram district has died of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an infection of the brain caused by Naegleria fowleri, commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba”.
Her name was given as Aishwarya, daughter of Surendran and Preethi of Aripra near Perinthalmanna in the district. Aishwarya was admitted to MES Medical College Hospital, Perinthalmanna, on Wednesday with high fever.
Hospital sources said she died on Thursday evening while being taken to a private hospital in Kochi for further treatment. The infection was diagnosed after her cerebrospinal fluid was sent for lab tests. A similar case had been earlier reported from Alappuzha.
This amoeba is commonly found in lakes, rivers, and soil. It infects people when contaminated water enters their body through the nose, from where it reaches the brain and causes primary amoebic meningoen- cephalitis.
People do not become infected from drinking contaminated water. Severe frontal headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting are the symptoms in the primary stage.
Later, the patient may experience stiff neck, seizures, altered mental status, hallucinations, and slip into a coma. Mortality rate is comparatively high in this type of infection.
Alert and protocol
Malappuram District Medical Officer K. Sakkeena told The Hindu that the Health Department would issue an alert to be careful against venturing into contaminated waterbodies.
Dr. Sakkeena claimed that a rapid response team had been formed to look into other encephalitis and meningitis cases.
Doctors had been told to report all atypical fever cases to the team to spot potential epidemics.
A treatment protocol would soon be out, she added.