A Korean man in his 50s, who recently returned from a trip to Thailand, has been killed by a brain-eating parasite, according to the health authorities in South Korea.
1. ”Brain-eating amoeba”
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) announced that it has recorded the first ever case of Naegleria fowleri, often referred to as a “brain-eating amoeba”, after the single-celled organism caused the death of a South Korean traveler who returned home after spending four months in Thailand. Naegleria fowleri, colloquially known as a “brain-eating amoeba”, is a species of the genus Naegleria and causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
A ‘brain-eating amoeba’ or Naegleria fowleri kills South Korean man within 11 day of returning from Thailand. pic.twitter.com/B2rtQDI83c— Quantum Techs (@Quantum_Techs) December 29, 2022
PAM is an acute infection caused by the amoeba that lives in soil and fresh water worldwide and feeds on bacteria. It enters the human body by inhalation through the nose and then makes its way into the brain. The tests performed by the hospital doctor confirmed that the gene discovered in the man’s system was 99.6% similar to that found in PAM patients in other countries, according to local media.
2. Taking precaution
Because it can infect the brain when amoeba-containing water passes up the nose, it is frequently referred to as the “brain-eating ameba”. According to KDCA, the man was hospitalised in serious condition the next day after returning to South Korea, on December 11, but could not be saved and ended up dying on December 21. The bacteria cannot be transmitted from human to human, however, the South Korean authorities still advised the public to refrain from swimming in areas where the disease has been reported.
3. Rare and fatal condition
The symptoms of the infection include headache, fever, nausea or vomiting, stiff neck, seizures, and altered mental state, and as PAM progresses, it often leads to coma and death. The fatality rate from the disease is extremely high and there is no specific cure for it. It is also hard to diagnose, as it is a rare condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are around 1,000 to 2,000 cases of Naegleria fowleri globally every year.