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Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis UPSC NOTE


Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) 

  • It is a rare brain infection that is caused by Naegleria fowleri and is usually fatal.

  • Naegleria fowleri, commonly known as ‘brain-eating amoeba’.

  • PAM infections are not spread from one person to another.

Sources of Infection and Risk Factors:

  • Naegleria fowleri lives in warm fresh water and soil around the world, and infects people when the ameba enters the body through the nose.

  • It destroys the brain tissue and causes swelling of the brain. 

  • Most Naegleria fowleri infections reported around the world have been linked to bathing and swimming in water bodies.

  • It grows best at higher temperatures up to 115°F (46°C) and can survive for short periods at higher temperatures.

  • The ameba can be found in:

    • Warm fresh water, such as lakes and rivers

    • Geothermal (naturally hot) water, such as hot springs

  • The ameba can be found in:

    • Warm water discharge from industrial or power plants

    • Untreated geothermal (naturally hot) drinking water sources

    • Swimming pools, splash pads, surf parks, or other recreational venues that are poorly maintained or minimally chlorinated

    • Tap water

    • Water heaters

    • Soil

  • Naegleria fowleri does not live in salt water, like the ocean.

How It Spreads?

  • Naegleria fowleri infects people by entering the body through the nose, usually while swimming.

  • The ameba travels up the nose to the brain where it destroys the brain tissue and causes swelling of the brain.

  • People cannot get infected with Naegleria fowleri from drinking water contaminated with Naegleria. 

Signs and Symptoms:

  • In its early stages, symptoms of PAM are similar to symptoms of bacterial meningitis.

  • Symptoms of PAM start 1 to 12 days after infection.

  • The initial symptoms include:

    • Headache, Fever, Nausea, Vomiting

  • Later symptoms include:

    • Stiff neck, Altered mental status (confusion), Lack of attention to people and surroundings, Seizures, Hallucinations, Coma

  • After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within about 5 days (range 1 to 18 days).


  • The early symptoms of PAM are similar to other more common illnesses, such as bacterial or viral meningitis. 

PAM is difficult to diagnose because of the rarity of the infection and the non-specific early symptoms.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis UPSC NOTE
Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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