South Korea Reported First Fatal Case of “Brain-Eating Amoeba”

Diseases and illnesses are one of the few things that we fear most in our daily lives, and adding to the list recently is an infection called Naegleria fowleri or better known as “Brain-Eating Amoeba”, as South Korea reported its first fatality.

On 26 Dec, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) confirmed that a Korean in his 50s passed on due to the infection.

The man flew back to South Korea on 10 Dec after staying in Thailand for four months. Upon returning to South Korea, he was admitted to a hospital the next day. He subsequently passed away on 21 Dec.

What is a “Brain-Eating Amoeba”?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Naegleria fowleri infects people when water containing the amoeba of the infection enters the body via the nasal passageway.

This situation can happen when someone is swimming, diving, or enjoying a hot spring.

The amoeba then travels up to the brain, where it starts to destroy the tissue and cause an infection called primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM), which is almost always fatal in most cases.

Symptoms of Infection

According to the KDCA, some symptoms that an infected person might feel include headache, a stiff neck, fever, nausea, or vomiting.

The incubation period for the “Brain-Eating Amoeba” is generally from two to three days but can go up to 15 days, depending on person to person.

If you are worried about contracting it from someone else, do not worry, Naegleria fowleri is not transmittable from human to human.

However, KDCA has advised people to avoid water facilities such as swimming pools in regions where the disease has broken out. This is because although the risk of infection is not high, most cases start from people visiting swimming pools.

To prevent yourself from contracting the disease, it is best to avoid contaminated water, especially when going for hikes or treks, where contaminated water can be commonly found.

381 Cases Worldwide

If you are wondering how many cases there are worldwide, this is a total of 381 cases of Naegleria fowleri that have been reported around the globe since 2018.

Countries near Singapore include India, Thailand, China, and Japan.

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Featured Image: Kateryna Kon/