Israeli man dies after contracting very rare ‘brain-eating amoeba’

Health Ministry says investigation launched to discover where 36-year-old resident of northern Israel came into contact with extremely rare, but often fatal organism

A 3D illustration of the brain-eating  infectious amoeba Naegleria fowleri (iStock)
A 3D illustration of the brain-eating infectious amoeba Naegleria fowleri (iStock)

An Israeli man has recently died after contracting a very rare “brain-eating amoeba,” the Health Ministry announced Friday.

The Ministry said it was investigating where the 36-year-old resident of northern Israel, who was otherwise healthy, could have come into contact with the organism.

The ministry said specialists had identified that the man was likely suffering from Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis, an infection of the brain caused by the Naegleria fowleri amoeba. But due to the rarity of the disease, the diagnosis was only confirmed after a sample was sent to the Center for Disease Control in the US.

The amoeba lives in soil and warm fresh water, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs.  It is commonly called the “brain-eating amoeba” because it can cause a brain infection when water containing the amoeba goes up the nose, according to the CDC.

While infection is extremely rare, with only some 400 cases diagnosed worldwide, it is often fatal.

“The Health Ministry is working with the Ministries of environmental protection and agriculture [to find the source] and will update the public on its finds,” the ministry said.


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