Brain Eating Amoeba

Brain Eating Amoeba


A 12-year-old boy from Feroke, undergoing treatment for primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, died on Wednesday, marking the third death from this rare infection in Kerala in the past two months.

GS-02 GS-03 (Health, Environment)

About Naegleria fowleri:

  • Naegleria fowleri, commonly known as the brain-eating amoeba, is a species belonging to the genus Naegleria. It is part of the phylum Percolozoa and is classified as an amoeboflagellate excavate, distinguishing it from true amoebas.
  • It lives throughout the world in warm and shallow bodies of fresh water, such as lakes, rivers and hot springs.
  • It also lives in soil.
  • It’s considered a free-living organism because it doesn’t need a host to live.
  • Class: Heterolobosea
  • Genus: Naegleria
  • Scientific Name: Naegleria fowleri
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  • Family: Vahlkampfiidae
  • Order: Schizopyrenida
  • Phylum: Percolozoa

How does one get infected?

  • Most common way of being infected by this type of amoeba happens when infected water goes into your nose.
  • From there, the amoeba goes to your brain.
  • This usually happens when you’re swimming, diving or doing something like water skiing in infected water.
  • In extremely rare cases, the infected water can be heated tap water or swimming pool water that isn’t chlorinated enough.


  • Incubation period: It takes about two to 15 days after you’ve been exposed to the amoeba for symptoms to develop.
  • High fever.
  • Very painful headache.
  • Nausea and vomiting. Trembling.
  • Symptoms like those of meningitis, including a stiff neck and extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia).
  • Mental confusion.
  • Coma.
  • The fatality rate is higher than 97% even with treatment.