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Potentially life-threatening emergency
Primary amebic encephalitis
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Potentially life-threatening emergency

Primary amebic encephalitis

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Contributors: Andrea Wasilewski MD, Christine Osborne MD, Jamie Adams MD, Richard L. Barbano MD, PhD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Synopsis

Primary amebic encephalitis is an acute hemorrhagic meningoencephalitis caused by the free-living ameba Naegleria fowleri. Infection is most common in children, with a mean age of 12 years at presentation, and is more common in the summer months. Patients typically present with acute symptoms 1-7 days after water exposure. Clinical symptoms at the time of presentation include high fever, severe headache, photophobia, nausea, vomiting, altered mental status, behavioral changes, and seizures. Physical examination reveals meningeal signs and cranial nerve palsies. Symptoms progress rapidly over days, leading to depressed mental status, intracranial hypertension, coma, herniation, and death.

Naegleria fowleri is found in warm freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, streams, hot springs, and ponds) but is not found in seawater. Human transmission occurs through inhalation of infected water. Amebae cause central nervous system (CNS) infection by penetrating the olfactory mucosa, crossing the cribriform plate, and entering the olfactory bulb. This disease is uniformly fatal with a mortality rate of 99%.

Codes

ICD10CM:
B60.2 – Naegleriasis

SNOMEDCT:
428175000 – Primary amebic encephalitis caused by Naegleria fowleri

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

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Therapy

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References

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Last Reviewed: 12/12/2018
Last Updated: 12/28/2018
Copyright © 2019 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.
Potentially life-threatening emergency
Primary amebic encephalitis
Print 1 Images
Primary amebic encephalitis : Seizures, Fever, Severe headache, Vomiting, Photophobia, Mental status alteration, Nuchal rigidity, Fresh water exposure
Copyright © 2019 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.