The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) has confirmed that a Korean citizen in his 50s has died after returning from Thailand.
The man returned to South Korea on December 10 after a four-month stay in the country. He was hospitalized the next day and died on December 21.
The KDCA said it conducted genetic tests for three types of Naegleria fowleri pathogens to confirm the cause of her death. Tests confirmed that the gene in the man’s body was 99.6 percent similar to the gene found in a meningitis patient.
This is the first known death from the disease in South Korea. The first fatality in the world was recorded in Virginia in 1937, according to The Korea Herald. Naegleria fowleri is a single-celled living organism or amoeba found in soil and warm freshwater such as hot springs, lakes, and rivers throughout the world.
The amoeba enters the body by inhalation through the nose and enters the brain. According to the KDCA, initial symptoms may include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting, and later symptoms may result in severe headaches, severe vomiting, and stiff neck (difficulty bending the head). The incubation period for Naegleria fowleri is usually two to three days and lasts up to a maximum of 15 days.
While person-to-person transmission of Naegleria fowleri is not possible, the KDCA has asked residents to refrain from swimming in the area where the person who died from the infection lived and stayed. The agency added that most cases of infection occur while swimming in open water. The greatest risk of infection occurs when the water temperature rises in summer.
As of 2018, 381 cases of Naegleria fowleri infection have been reported worldwide, including in India, Thailand, the United States, China, and Japan. In the United States alone, 154 cases of infection were reported from 1962 to 2021. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only four people survived and the death rate exceeded 97 percent. hundred.