Rare cases of amebic meningoencephalitis in USA and Pakistan

Cases of a rare brain infection caused by a deadly parasitic organism known as Naegleria fowleri have been reported in South Carolina, USA (1 case) and near Karachi, Pakistan (4 cases). All these cases were fatal. Without prompt treatment, this infection is invariably fatal. In the USA, the infection resulted from swimming in warm lake waters, while in Pakistan, all cases reported swimming in warm water pools on farms.

People are infected by this ubiquitous parasite when the parasitic amoeba penetrates the human body when a person forces water into the nose by diving or jumping into an infected swimming pool, fresh water pond, lake or river. When the water hits the roof of the nose, the parasite travels directly to the brain, causing acute meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and the linings around it). The parasite can not be transmitted directly from one person to another. Although the parasite is ubiquitous throughout the world, human infection is quite rare.

Visit our Health Library for more information on exposure to and the prevention of Encephalitis.

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