Recently, A five-year-old girl in Kerala died from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a rare infection caused by Naegleria fowleri, also known as the “brain-eating amoeba.”

About Brain-eating amoeba:

  • Naegleria fowleri, often called “brain-eating amoeba,” is a single-celled organism that can cause a serious central nervous system infection. 
  • People who become infected by this amoeba develop a condition called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). PAM is a very serious infection of the central nervous system that’s almost always fatal.


  • Naegleria fowleri thrives in warm (around 46°C or 115°F) and stagnant freshwater – like lakes, rivers, hot springs, and poorly maintained pools.


  • People can become infected when contaminated water enters the nose, typically while swimming or diving. 
  • The amoeba then travels up the olfactory nerve to the brain, where it destroys the brain tissue and causes swelling, causing a severe and often fatal infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
  • PAM is non-communicable and people can’t get infected by drinking Naegleria fowleri contaminated water.


  • Early signs (within days of exposure) can be misleadingly common, including:
  • Headache, Fever, Nausea, Vomiting.
  • However, the infection quickly advances, leading to:
  • Disorientation, Stiff neck, Seizures, Sensitivity to light (photophobia), Mental confusion, Coma.
  • Fatality Rate: It’s important to note that PAM has a high fatality rate, exceeding 97% even with treatment. 


  • Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for survival. 
  • Antimicrobial medications such as amphotericin B, azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampin, miltefosine, and dexamethasone can be used, but the prognosis remains poor.


  • The best way to avoid infection is to be cautious around warm freshwater sources:
  • Avoid swimming in stagnant or inadequately treated water.
  • Hold your nose or use nose clips while swimming in potentially contaminated water.
  • Avoid forceful activities that stir up sediment in shallow water.

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