South Korean health officials report that a man in his 50s who had just returned from a vacation to Thailand was dead from a parasite that consumes the brain.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) announced that it has recorded the first-ever case of Naegleria fowleri, commonly referred to as a “brain-eating amoeba,” after the single-celled organism caused the death of a South Korean traveler who had spent four months in Thailand and then returned home. Naegleria fowleri, a species of the genus Naegleria that causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis, is commonly characterized as a “brain-eating amoeba” (PAM).
PAM is an acute illness caused by the soil- and freshwater-dwelling amoeba that feeds on bacteria. It enters the human body via the nasal passages and then travels to the brain. According to local media, the hospital doctor’s testing revealed that the gene detected in the man’s system was 99.6% identical to those found in PAM patients from other nations.
This amoeba is commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba” because it may infect the brain when amoeba-containing water enters the nose. According to the KDCA, the man was hospitalized in critical condition the day following his return to South Korea on December 11, but he was unable to be rescued and died on December 21. Even though the bacterium cannot be spread from person to person, South Korean officials have recommended the public avoid swimming in locations where the sickness has been recorded.
The symptoms of the infection include headache, fever, nausea or vomiting, stiff neck, convulsions, and altered mental state; as the illness develops, coma and death are often the results. The condition has an extraordinarily high mortality rate, and there is no known treatment. As it is an uncommon ailment, it is also difficult to diagnose. The World Health Organization (WHO) believes there are between one thousand and two thousand cases of Naegleria fowleri worldwide each year.