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Amoebic Meningoencephalitis Deaths in Kerala: Health Officials Raise Alarm - In Bulletin

 Kozhikode, Kerala – In a disturbing incident, Kerala has reported its third death from amoebic meningoencephalitis in two months, raising urgent public health concerns. The most recent victim, a 12-year-old boy named E.P. Mridul from Feroke, found dead with the rare and fatal infection on July 4th after being treated at a private hospital in Kozhikode.


Kerala reports third amoebic meningitis death. Health officials urge caution as cases rise. Learn symptoms and preventive measures. - In Bulletin

Series of Tragic Deaths

Mridul, a Class VII student of Farook Higher Secondary School, had been critically ill since June 24th. He initially sought treatment for severe headaches and vomiting at the government taluk hospital in Feroke, before being transferred to the Government Medical College Hospital in Kozhikode, and finally to the private facility where he passed away. The infection is believed to have originated from a local pond near Farook College where he had bathed.


The state has witnessed similar tragedies recently. On June 12th, V. Dakshina, a 13-year-old girl from Kannur, died of the same infection, followed by the death of a 5-year-old girl named Fadva from Munniyur, Malappuram on May 20th. These cases have alarmed health officials and the general public alike, highlighting the lethal nature of this brain infection.


Understanding Amoebic Meningoencephalitis

Amoebic meningoencephalitis is caused by Naegleria fowleri, a free-living amoeba commonly found in warm freshwater environments such as lakes, rivers, and ponds. The infection occurs when water containing the amoeba enters the body through the nose, traveling to the brain and causing severe brain tissue inflammation. Symptoms often include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and seizures, which rapidly progress to more severe neurological complications.


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Health Advisory and Preventive Measures

In response to these alarming cases, the Kerala Health Department is set to issue new treatment guidelines. They have advised against swimming in stagnant or untreated water sources, especially for individuals with ear infections. Regular chlorination of water in swimming pools and water parks is also being emphasized to curb the spread of the amoeba.


Dr. Abdul Rauf, a consultant paediatric intensivist at Baby Memorial Hospital, stressed the need for vigilance, noting that early symptoms can quickly escalate. Unfortunately, there are no widely effective treatments for primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The current approach involves a combination of medications, including amphotericin B, azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampin, miltefosine, and dexamethasone.


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Community and Healthcare Response

The recent spike in cases has prompted health authorities to conduct water testing in suspected areas to identify and mitigate risks. Public awareness campaigns are being intensified to educate people about the dangers of swimming in untreated water sources and the importance of early medical intervention if symptoms arise.


With three young lives already lost, Kerala's health officials are working tirelessly to prevent further cases and understand the structural behavior of these dangerous amoebas. The collaboration between medical professionals and microbiologists is crucial in this fight against a rare but deadly threat.


Conclusion

The tragic deaths of E.P. Mridul, V. Dakshina, and Fadva have cast a shadow over Kerala, highlighting the urgent need for preventive measures and public awareness about amoebic meningoencephalitis. As health officials continue their efforts to contain this outbreak, the community must remain vigilant and proactive in safeguarding against this fatal infection.


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