Another death from ‘brain-eating amoeba’

Tran Thanh Duong, deputy head of the Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health, on September 18 confirmed the death of a six-year-old child in Ho Chi Minh City from an infection by the so-called ‘brain-eating amoeba’, scientifically known as Naegleria Fowleri.

The so-called ‘brain-eating amoeba’, scientifically known as Naegleria Fowleri under microscope

More than a month and a half after the country’s first death from a brain-eating amoeba was confirmed in the central province of Phu Yen, this second death of a young boy is suspected to be also caused by the same killer virus.

To be on the side of caution, the Department of Preventive Medicine has sent urgent dispatches to all sub-divisions in localities and the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City to enhance supervision so as to early detect similar cases.

Doctors at the Tropical Diseases Hospital in HCMC applied a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique to test blood samples from the dead victim and the results showed that the child had indeed been infected with the brain-eating amoeba. Infection caused by Naegleria Fowleri is hard to cure, and the death rate is very high, doctors said.

Previously, a 25-year-old temporary resident of Ho Chi Minh City had contracted the same infection while he was visiting his hometown in Phu Yen Province in mid-July, soon after he climbed into a pond to catch clams.

Later when he returned to HCMC, he developed high fever and a headache and the Nhan Dan Gia Dinh Hospital doctors suspected that he had been infected with a kind of amoeba. The man was later transferred to the Tropical Diseases Hospital where he did not recover since the amoeba had moved from his nose to his brain and he acquired acute meningitis.

The man later fell into a deep coma and experienced three cardiac arrests and three respiratory arrests before he died on July 31. A molecular biological test on a sample from the victim confirmed that he had been infected with the deadly amoeba.

This ‘brain eating amoeba’ was discovered in 1965 and is said to be incurable.

Related article:
Brain-eating amoeba infection not a threat: Doctors

By K.Quoc – translated by Anh Quan

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