A Rare Brain-Eating Amoeba Kills A Woman At 69

A Rare Brain-Eating Amoeba Kills A Woman At 69


Earlier this year, a 69-year-old lady in Seattle had a seizure and the doctors in the Swedish Medical Center thought it was a brain tumor. But it was a much deadlier attack as it was a rare amoeba eating up her brain cells. This is called Balamuthia mandrillaris and slowly kills the brain cells.

When a neurosurgeon at Swedish, Dr. Charles Cobbs first diagnosed this woman, she had dead brain tissues. A large part of her brain was bloody mush. Initially, the doctors had no clue about what happened inside her brain. Later, they saw amoebas all over her brain. They were eating the cells of the brain from almost a year.

As per the doctors at Swedish Medical Center, this lady was using a neti pot, a device used to irrigate the sinuses. Through this device, the amoebas must have entered her brain. The doctors said that the lady must have used tap water instead of sterile water which passed these species to her brain. She used to rinse her nasal cavity and sinuses with the tap water.

This rare amoeba kills 90% of the patients infected by it, as per the analysis from the Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal. Dr. Cobbs said that people must be highly preventive when they use any medical devices.

Amoebas can lead to dangerous fatal diseases in humans. These single-celled organisms are found in water and warm soil. Doctors said that these amoebas were unknown before 20 years. But now, there have been almost similar 200 cases worldwide.

The doctors and researchers became first aware in 1990 that this amoeba causes death in people. Between the years 1974 and 2016, 109 cases of the amoeba were reported.

These cases were most prominent in places like Arizona, California, Texas, etc. Dr. Cobbs says that this amoeba could survive in cooler areas like Washington State with climatic changes. Our environments are constantly warming which gives a chance to such amoebas to move and survive in cooler regions as well.