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Saturday, September 28th 2013

It Only Seems The Summer of Naegleria

I know its just me but it seems the summer of Naegleria Fowleri, the “brain eating” amoeba, that each year makes headlines in the American south. In short order there have been at least three cases I can think of that have gotten significant media attention. It seems more prevalent in the news than I remember it in previous years. And yet the disease remains as rare as ever. Perhaps its just the coverage of Kali Hardig, the first survivor of the meningoencephalitis caused by the amoeba in decades.

I will say she looks remarkably non-devastated neurologically for having gone through this infection.

N. Fowleri enters the brain through the nose. It lives in warm, shallow, still, fresh water.

The symptoms of its meningitis occur within a week of infection. Rare cases of survival are probably related to early diagnosis. Mainstay treatments are highly ineffective but center on amphotericin B plus or minus steroids. The CDC is handing out miltefosine this summer as a new possible treatment for amoebic meningoencephalitis. But all three of the cases I know about got it and two of them didn’t survive. Not a massive shift in prognosis but considering where we’re starting from any other therapy options are probably welcomed.

Luckily this remains an incredibly rare disease.