Israeli media are reporting this morning on a fatality due to the “brain-eating amoeba”, Naegleria fowleri, in the northern part of the country.
According to the Jerusalem Post, a statement released by the Health Ministry on Friday morning, the 36-year-old, who had no underlying health conditions, recently passed away after suffering from a fatal brain infection caused by the amoeba.
Due to the rare nature of the disease, a clinical sample was also then sent to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US.
Health officials are investigating how he could have come into contact with the organism.
Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic amoeba which is a single-celled living organism. It can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The amoeba is commonly found in warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals.
Infections can happen when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM (which destroys brain tissue) and is usually fatal. Infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels.
Naegleria fowleri infections are rare. Most infections occur from exposure to contaminated recreational water. Cases due to the use of neti pots and the practice of ablution have been documented.
You cannot be infected with Naegleria fowleri by drinking contaminated water and the amoeba is not found in salt water.
Initial symptoms of PAM usually start within 1 to 7 days after infection. The initial symptoms may include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting. Other symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly.
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