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0″A fourth instance of amoebic meningoencephalitis, a rare brain infection, has been reported from Kerala; three of the victims were minors. Learn about the outbreak, government response, preventive measures, and the deadly nature of this rare disease caused by contaminated water.”

The fourth case of amoebic meningoencephalitis — a type of rare but almost always killer brain infection—has been reported from the southern state of Kerala in India. As usual, it has been caused by a free-living amoeba that is usually found in contaminated water. The 14-year-old boy from Payyoli in Kozhikikode district is undergoing treatment in a private hospital. 

Rising Concern in Kerala

Cases in the state have been on an unsettling rise since May, including all children. Three of the afflicted children have already lost their lives to the infection. The latest case was that of a boy who was admitted on July 1, and his condition, the doctors say, is gradually improving. Identification was prompt, and immediate treatment with imported medications saved his life.

Earlier Cases and Deaths

On 3 July, another 14-year-old boy fell prey to the infection, making it the third death since the outbreak. Previously, a five-year-old girl of Malappuram and a Kannur girl, 13, died on May 21 and 25, respectively. These deaths brought to light the requirement for heightened awareness and preventive measures against this very rare and killer disease.

Government Response

The Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, met on Friday to work out some preventive measures in view of the outbreak. Preventive measures included avoiding unclean and polluted water bodies for bathing, ensuring proper chlorination of swimming pools, and warning children to take extra precautions while immersing in water bodies. The CM pressed for cleaning the waterbodies to avoid further infection.

What is Amoebic Meningoencephalitis?

This is amebic meningoencephalitis, a very rare and serious infection of the brain produced by an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, said to proliferate in warm and contaminated water. Commonly, it is an amoeba that invades the body via the nose and goes to the brain, leading to devastating effects. Very early mediating symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting, which rapidly progress to seizures, hallucinations, and coma. The infection is almost always fatal, with an extraordinarily high mortality rate even with medical treatment.

Preventive Measures

Given the severity of the infection, preventive measures are very important. The Kerala government has appealed to people not to swim in dirty or stagnant water and to disinfect swimming pools with adequate quantities of chlorine. Other measures include not immersing one’s head in hot springs as well as other warm freshwater bodies. Also, wearing nose clips or holding the nose shut while swimming in freshwater may prevent further infections.

The recent cases of amoebic meningoencephalitis in Kerala turned out to be a grim pointer toward the threat from contaminated water. With the state government taking proactive measures by raising awareness and mounting preventive measures, it is hoped further infections could be checked. The public is appealed to to remain vigilant and to follow the safety guidelines so that they and their near and dear ones can save themselves from this deadly infection.

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