5-yr-old girl from Malappuram infected with amoebic meningoencephalitis

Health Minister Veena George said the child will be given all possible expert treatment.
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

KOZHIKODE: A five-year-old girl from Malappuram is battling for her life at the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital (MCH) after being diagnosed with amoebic meningoencephalitis, a rare disease that affects the brain. It is suspected that the child contracted the virus from a river in Moonniyur. The girl, a native of Moonniyur panchayat, is on ventilator support at the intensive care unit of the MCH.

Health Minister Veena George said the child will be given all possible expert treatment. “As of now, there are no effective drugs to treat the disease. A combination of drugs that are considered effective against Naegleria are being administered to the patient. We are also seeking the possibility of sourcing medicines from abroad. The health department has intensified disease control activities in Moonniyur. The district medical officer has been instructed to ensure expert treatment to anyone who shows symptoms of the disease,” said the minister.

On May 1, the girl took a bath in the river near her house along with her relatives, it is learnt. On May 10, she was referred to a paediatrician near her residence after developing fever, headache and vomiting.

The girl was admitted to a private hospital in Chelari on May 12 and later shifted to another one in Kozhikode. However, as her health condition worsened, she was rushed to the MCH on the same day for expert treatment. The girl’s relatives who took a dip with her in the river are also under surveillance.

What is amoebic meningoencephalitis?

Amoebic meningoencephalitis is a rare disease that affects one in ten thousand people. It is caused by Naegleria fowleri, a variety of amoeba found in rivers, lakes and hot springs. The amoeba enters the human body through the nose while swimming and causes encephalitis, which seriously affects the brain.

Preventive measures

As the virus is generally found in warm freshwater bodies that are not cleaned or chlorinated, avoid bathing in them during the summer. Seek immediate medical care if the body shows symptoms of the disease. Special attention should be given to children who go swimming in water bodies other than chlorinated pools.


The primary symptoms are severe headache, fever, vomiting and difficulty in moving the neck. The symptoms mainly appear within 1-9 days of infection. When the situation turns critical, the patient might experience epilepsy, loss of consciousness and memory loss. Diagnosis is made by taking fluid from the spinal cord and testing it.

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The New Indian Express