This Article is From Dec 27, 2022

South Korea Registers First Death Linked to 'Brain-Eating Amoeba'

Because it can infect the brain when amoeba-containing water passes up the nose, it is frequently referred to as the "brain-eating ameba."

South Korea Registers First Death Linked to 'Brain-Eating Amoeba'

Naegleria fowleri is a single-celled amoeba, commonly found in warm fresh water.

A man in his 50s passed away from the infection of Naegleria fowleri, commonly referred to as the "brain-eating amoeba," after returning from Thailand, marking South Korea's first case of the deadly disease, according to The Korea Times.

A Korean national died after returning from Thailand, according to a report in the News Outlet, which cited the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. The man spent a total of four months there before returning to Korea two weeks ago, on December 10.

The patient began to show symptoms of meningitis, such as headaches, fever, vomiting, slurred speech, and stiffness of the neck, on the evening of his arrival, and was transferred to an emergency room the next day.

The next day, he was admitted to a hospital, and he passed away on December 21.

The cause of his death was determined by genetic testing on three different infections that cause Naegleria fowleri, according to the Korean health agency. Testing revealed that the man's body contained a gene that was 99.6% identical to one discovered in a meningitis patient who had been reported abroad.

This is the first known infection from the disease in South Korea. Although the KDCA has not yet identified the precise method of transmission, it has highlighted that the two main sources of infection are swimming in contaminated water and nasal rinsing with infected water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the national public health agency of the United States, Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba (single-celled living organism) that lives in soil and warm fresh water, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs. 

It is commonly called the "brain-eating amoeba" because it can cause a brain infection when water containing the ameba goes up the nose. Only about three people in the United States get infected each year, but these infections are usually fatal.

The first report identifying this infection was published in 1965 in Australia. The report identified three fatal infections from 1965 and one from 1961.