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Medical Breakthrough: Successful Treatment of Rare Brain-Eating Amoeba Infection Marks Milestone in Patient Care

Physicians at the Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research (IPGMER) have achieved a significant breakthrough in treating a patient with a rare illness of the central nervous system caused by the “brain-eating amoeba,” Naegleria fowleri. The illness, formally known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), often carries a mortality rate exceeding 90%. The patient, identified as Howrah resident Dipankar Bhowmik, was admitted to the hospital on January 6 with symptoms of acute encephalitis and was discharged from the critical care unit on Monday.

Mr. Bhowmik will continue to be monitored in the ward for a few more days before receiving clearance to go home. Experts emphasize that the nasal tube is the entry point for the brain-eating amoeba commonly found in contaminated water.

A dedicated team of doctors, including Dr. Sugata Dasgupta, Dr. Samarendra Samui, Dr. Atanu Biswas, Dr. Aniruddha Chatterjee, and Dr. Alakes Kumar Kole, collaborated to deliver comprehensive treatment to the patient. This successful intervention signifies a crucial advancement in managing a condition historically associated with low survival rates.

All you want to know about Naegleria fowleri

Naegleria is a single-celled living organism (Amoeba) that is observable only through a microscope due to its diminutive size.

Habitat

warm freshwater (lakes and rivers), Tap water, Water heaters, natural springs, and discharged warm water from industrial plants.

 

Route of transmission

The amoeba infiltrates the body through the nose.

 

Mode of transmission

The transmission typically occurs when individuals swim, dive, or submerge their heads in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers). This phenomenon also arises when people employ contaminated tap water for nasal cleansing during religious practices or sinus rinsing (introducing water into the nasal passages).

The infection can not spread from one person to another.

 

Pathogenesis

Naegleria fowleri can cause PAM, a brain infection leading to the destruction of brain tissue inducing brain swelling and ultimately leading to death.

 

Symptoms:

During its initial stages, symptoms of PAM may resemble those of bacterial meningitis.

  • Onset of PAM symptoms: Usually 5 days after infection, though it can range from 1 to 12 days.

Early symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Nausea, or vomiting

Subsequent symptoms can manifest as a stiff neck, confusion, diminished attention to people and surroundings, seizures, hallucinations, and eventual coma.

Following the initiation of symptoms, the disease advances rapidly, often resulting in death within about 5 days.

 

Treatment of PAM

A combination of drugs, which commonly includes amphotericin B, azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampin, miltefosine, and dexamethasone, is typically employed for the treatment of PAM.

Source: Inputs from various media Sources

Priya Bairagi

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