What is Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM)?

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What is Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM)? Blog Image


Recently, South Korea reported its first case of the rare yet fatal infection - Naegleria fowleri or “brain-eating amoeba”.

About Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM):

  • It is a rare, usually fatal, infection of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
  • It is caused by a type of free-living amoeba (a microscopic, single-celled organism) called Naegleria fowleri.
    • Naegleria fowleri occurs in shallow surface waters and incorrectly maintained swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas, particularly in warm climates.
    • The amebas can enter the brain through the nose when people swim in contaminated warm, fresh water.
    • The amoeba then invades the brainand meninges through the nose.
  • Symptoms:
    • Symptoms, which include fever, headache, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, typically appear within five days of infection and progress rapidly.
    • In the later stages, one can suffer from a stiff neck, seizures, hallucinations, and even coma.
  • Treatment:
    • There are no standard treatments for the treatment of PAM.
    • Combination therapy using medicines to treat parasites offers the most promise.
  • PAM differs from granulomatous amebic encephalitis, which is another very rare, usually fatal infection of the central nervous system caused by different free-living amebas, Acanthamoeba species or Balamuthia mandrillaris.

Q1: What is amoeba?

It is a generic term used to refer to a group of single-celled organisms belonging to the biological kingdom Protista. Amoebas are eukaryotic microorganisms that are characterized by their ability to change shape and move using pseudopods, which are temporary extensions of the cell membrane. 

Source: Kerala govt issues warning against amoebic meningoencephalitis: Know what it is