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USA,Arkansas. Amoeba “eating the brain” caused the death of a 16-month-old child

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A 16-month-old boy in the US state of Arkansas has died after being infected with the amoeba Naegleria fowleri. This parasite causes serious meningitis and encephalitis. The infection ends in death for 97 percent of patients.

The infection probably occurred while the child was playing in a paddling pool at a local sports club in Little Rock, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) said in a statement on Thursday. Presence of amoeba Naegleria fowleri was detected in one of the samples taken, and the rest were waiting to be tested on Friday.

– A 16-month-old boy died on September 4 after spending several days in the hospital, Gerone Hobbs, Pulaski County coroner, told CNN on Friday.

The club has temporarily voluntarily closed its splash pad and swimming pool.

The last case of infection with this parasite in Arkansas occurred in 2013. About three infections are reported each year in the United States, but most cases result in death. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the mortality rate of negleriosis, an acute meningitis and encephalitis caused by the parasite, is 97 percent. Only four of the 154 people infected between 1962 and 2021 survived.

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Amoeba Naegleria fowleri

Known as the “brain-eating” amoeba Naegleria fowleri it usually lives in freshwater with a temperature of 30-46 degrees Celsius, although it can also nest in improperly maintained swimming pools. This single-celled organism is one of four known amoebae that cause disease in humans. Infection occurs when a microbe enters the human body through the nose and then travels to the brain.

The first symptoms usually appear one week after infection. Initially, it is fever, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and stiff neck. Later, problems with concentration and maintaining balance appear, as well as convulsions and hallucinations.

Amoeba Naegleria fowleriShutterstock

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