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Second amoeba-related death remains a mystery

Update: September, 22/2012 - 10:04

HCM CITY (VNS)— The cause of the second fatality connected with the brain-eating amoeba (Naegleri Fowleri) has not been ascertained even after epidemiological and paraclinical tests, according to the HCM City Preventive Medicine Centre.

The HCM City Forensic Examination Centre on Thursday affirmed that tests show the cause for the second fatality in Viet Nam was the amoeba found in warm freshwater lakes and rivers.

The previous day, the City's Medical Affairs Office had said that the victim had been afflicted by encephalitis caused by the Naegleri Fowleri amoeba.

Six-year-old Ly Tai Tien of Binh Tan District suffered a stroke at birth, leading to mental retardation and movement disorder.

He died on the way to the District 6 Hospital on August 12. Doctors were told that a week before being brought to the hospital, the victim had suffered a head injury but not vomit.

He had high temperature and was given medicine for it two days before he was hospitalised.

"How Tien had come into contact with the deadly amoeba is not known," said Dr Tran Phu Manh Sieu, director of the City Preventive Medicine Centre.

The Naegleri Fowleri amoeba enters the body through the nose and develops rapidly, migrating through the olfactory nerve to the brain, causing fever with high temperature, headache and even loss of behaviour control.

A 25-year-old man from central Phu Yen Province was the first fatality this year at the beginning of August. He was infected with the amoeba from the water in a lake near his house into which he dove to fish for snails and oysters.

Although the number of patients infected with the amoeba is very low, the fatality rate is high, experts say.

In the US alone, 121 patients have been infected with the amoeba since 1937. Only one person survived. — VNS

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