Brain-eating amoeba kills 6-year-old in Texas

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A six-year-old boy died due to a brain-eating amoeba present in the water in an area of ​​the state of Texas, in the United States.

The little boy first suffered from a fever, acute headaches, started vomiting. He was admitted at the Texas Children’s Hospital, doctors determined that he was infected with Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba.

On September 8, the boy’s situation worsened and he died.

The death of the little boy prompted local leaders to test drinking water samples for analysis and shut down the city’s water sources as a precaution.

According to local media, three of the 11 water samples taken tested positive for genetic material related to Naegleria fowleri, including one at the boy’s home.

In response to the situation, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued an alert to avoid using tap water in nine cities due to the presence of the amoeba in the water supply.

Disinfection measures were immediately carried out; however, residents of Lake Jackson were still asked to boil their water and take extra precautions such as preventing water from entering their noses when bathing, or allowing children to play with hoses.

What is Naegleria fowleri?

the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained that the Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba found throughout the world. Very often its presence is manifested in warm or hot fresh water, such as lakes,  rivers and hot springs.

This organism can travel through the nose and reach the brain, causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which destroys brain tissue and causes brain inflammation and death.

5 days after infection, symptoms start to show. This can include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting.

Later symptoms may include a stiff neck, confusion, inattention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations.

“After the onset of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death in about 5 days.”

Brain-eating amoeba infections are not common, however, they are deadly. Scientists are still working on a potential cure.

According to information from the CDC, of ​​133 people known to be infected in the United States since 1962, only three survived.

Ayaz Anwar, a researcher at Sunway University, who led the research, told The New York Times, “The biggest challenge is finding a drug that can actually reach the right region of the brain. We need a drug that can trick the body into letting it through—and we know that anti-seizure drugs can overcome that barrier.”