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Health Alert: Kerala Student Dies from Rare Brain Infection

Brain Infection: EP Mridul, a class 7 student at Farook Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode, Kerala, tragically passed away at 11:20 pm on July 3, as reported by the state health department. He had been admitted to a private hospital after experiencing vomiting and headaches, where doctors diagnosed him with amoebic meningoencephalitis.

Amoebic meningoencephalitis, caused by amoebae such as “Naegleria fowleri” and “Acanthamoeba”, is a rare brain infection. Commonly known as the “brain-eating amoeba”, it enters the body through contaminated freshwater, typically via the nose, and migrates to the brain, causing severe inflammation and damage to nerve tissue.

Mridul’s illness reportedly began after bathing in a pond, prompting health officials to issue warnings to the public to avoid the pond and watch for symptoms if they had recently bathed there.

This tragic incident follows the deaths of two other children earlier this year in Malappuram and Kannur districts due to the same infection.

What is Amoebic Meningoencephalitis?

Amoebic meningoencephalitis is a severe infection of the brain caused by amoebae found in contaminated water sources. It is not transmitted from person to person and typically presents symptoms such as headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, seizures, altered mental status, and hallucinations within 1-9 days of exposure. The disease progresses rapidly and can lead to death within 1-12 days after symptoms appear.

Health authorities stress that infection occurs when non-parasitic amoebae enter the body through the nose from contaminated water, highlighting the importance of avoiding such exposures.

Precautions and Health Advice

Given the severity of amoebic meningoencephalitis, health authorities in Kerala have advised the public to exercise caution around freshwater sources. They recommend avoiding activities that involve nasal exposure to untreated water, especially during periods of increased temperature that favor amoeba growth.

Previous cases of the disease were reported in Kerala’s coastal Alappuzha district in 2017 and 2023, underscoring the ongoing need for awareness and preventive measures to combat this rare but potentially fatal infection.

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