Man dies of encephalitis caused by rare amoeba, in Israel’s 2nd-ever recorded case

Reporter at The Times of Israel

A man who had Israel’s second-ever recorded case of Naegleria fowleri, a rare amoeba that causes encephalitis, has died, Beilinson Hospital announces.

The otherwise healthy 26-year-old man could have come into contact with the amoeba while swimming at Gai Beach in Tiberias. He was admitted to Sharon Hospital on Tuesday with symptoms of fever, headaches, and vomiting.When his condition worsened, he was transferred to Beilinson.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, it is commonly called the “brain-eating amoeba” because it can cause a brain infection when water containing the amoeba goes up the nose.

Naegleria fowleri thrives in warm water. In most cases, nothing happens to those who swim in water sources where the amoeba is present. Health Ministry investigators conducted samples at the beach where he bathed and found no evidence of amoeba contamination.

The mortality rate from encephalitis due to this amoeba is very high. While infection is extremely rare, with only some 400 cases diagnosed worldwide, it is often fatal.

Symptoms often include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, and neurological symptoms such as confusion, seizures, and hallucinations. It requires immediate medical attention.

A 36-year-old man died in Israel in August 2022 of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a brain infection caused by the same amoeba.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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