A 69-year-old woman from Seattle has died after contracting a rare brain-eating amoeba, Balamuthia mandrillaris.
As per a report in International Journal of Infectious Diseases, a sinus infection had earlier made the woman visit a doctor, who prescribed her with a neti-pot to flush out the sinus, a commonly used treatment. The treatment requires the use of sterile or saline water. The woman, however, used tap water which can contain tiny organisms that are safe to drink but can survive in nasal passages.
Things got worse when she had a seizure a year later and had to have brain surgery because doctors initially thought she had a brain tumor. However, during the surgery, surgeons uncovered a section of her brain that been turned into a ‘bloody mush.’ “There were these amoebae all over the place just eating brain cells," Dr. Charles Cobbs, a neurosurgeon at Swedish Medical Center, told the Seattle Times.
Despite aggressive anti-amoebic therapy, the patient’s condition continued to deteriorate. Within one week she was more somnolent and then became comatose. At this point, the family decided to withdraw support
Balamuthia mandrillaris is a free-living amoeba that is known to cause the deadly neurological condition known as granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE) with a mortality rate approximated at 95%. It is treated with a combination of amoebicidal therapy plus surgical resection of CNS lesion.