Teenager Dies from Rare Brain Infection Caused by Amoebae in Contaminated Waters in Kerala’s Alappuzha District

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Person lying dead with outstretched hand

In a tragic incident, a teenager in Kerala’s Alappuzha district has succumbed to a rare brain infection caused by free-living amoebae found in contaminated waters, according to state Health Minister Veena George. The 15-year-old, hailing from the nearby town of Panavalli, was diagnosed with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a disease seldom encountered. This distressing news follows the previous reporting of five similar cases of the infection in the state. Health Minister Veena George confirmed the boy’s unfortunate demise and expressed her concern over the increasing number of instances involving this rare infection. The first case was reported in 2016, originating in the Thirumala ward of Alappuzha.

Subsequently, two cases were recorded in Malappuram in 2019 and 2020, while one case each emerged in Kozhikode and Thrissur in 2020 and 2022 respectively. Tragically, all infected patients ultimately succumbed to the illness, as the mortality rate for this brain infection is 100 percent. Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis manifests through various symptoms, including fever, headache, vomiting, and seizures. The infection occurs when the free-living, non-parasitic amoeba bacteria infiltrate the human brain by entering through the nasal cavity. Health officials and medical experts emphasize the severity of the disease, urging people to refrain from bathing in contaminated water bodies to prevent further cases.

The free-living amoebae responsible for this infection are predominantly found in stagnant water, making it essential to exercise caution and avoid exposure to potentially contaminated sources. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the risks associated with waterborne infections and the need for public awareness regarding preventive measures. To address the growing concerns, health officials have issued advisories urging the public to exercise caution and avoid contact with contaminated water bodies. The authorities stress the importance of maintaining personal hygiene and cleanliness, especially in regions where the infection has been reported.

Additionally, efforts are underway to raise awareness among the general population about the potential dangers of these amoebae and the measures to mitigate the risks. This unfortunate loss of a young life highlights the urgent need for increased vigilance and proactive measures to tackle rare infections caused by free-living amoebae. The government, in collaboration with healthcare professionals, is working towards implementing effective strategies to prevent the recurrence of such cases. By prioritizing public health education and promoting hygiene practices, the authorities aim to safeguard the well-being of individuals and prevent the spread of this devastating brain infection.

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