A South Korean man in his fifties paid with his life to scuba dive in Thailand. During his vacation, the man contracted the rare and deadly infection “Naegleria fowleri,” better known as a brain-eating amoeba.
Earlier this week, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) confirmed that the victim died of a brain-eating amoeba, according to the Korean Times. The man in his 50s spent four months in Thailand before entering Korea on December 10.
On the day of his arrival in Korea, the patient began showing symptoms of meningitis: headache, fever, vomiting, slurred speech, and a stiff neck. The next day he ended up in the hospital’s emergency room. His condition worsened there and he was pronounced dead on 21 December.
After his death, health authorities conducted tests to determine the exact cause of death. It turned out to be the rare infection, Naegleria fowleri, or a brain-eating amoeba. This amoeba mainly occurs in places with stagnant, warm and fresh water. In warmer regions, amoeba is more common. They are also sometimes found where industry drains hot water.
The amoeba can enter the nervous system through the nose and then spread to the brain. It usually takes 1 to 9 days for symptoms to appear. In 95% of cases, the victim dies within two weeks. The infection is not transmitted from person to person.
The infection was first discovered in 1965 by Australian pathologist Malcolm Fowler. Of the total of 151 known infected people through 2020 in the United States, only four patients survived.
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