Doctors in Ho Chi Minh City have revealed surprising findings about Vietnam’s second case of a rare brain-eating amoeba, but much about the recent death is still a mystery.
Speaking at a conference on Tuesday, Dr. Phan Van Hieu, director of HCMC Center for Forensic Science, said the number of the amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, in the brain of the six-year-old victim, and the extent of the damage to his brain, suggested that the organism had entered his body just over one week before he died on August 12.
However, diagnosis of an abscess – a pus-filled cavity formed from inflammation in response to bacterial infection – in the brain suggested that the brain could have been attacked by the amoeba for at least one month, Hieu said.
The forensic center’s report presented by Hieu at the conference stirred and puzzled experts, VnExpress reported.
Usually people develop first symptoms of amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) - a brain inflammation and nervous system disease caused by the organism - within one to seven days since exposure, and they die within one to 12 days since the first symptoms.
Dr. Truong Huu Khanh, head of the infection and neurology department at Children Hospital 1, even raised doubts about the earlier diagnosis that concluded that the boy died because of PAM caused by Naegleria fowleri.
But that suspicion was soon rejected by Dr. Dinh Nguyen Huy Man, chief of testing department at the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases, which conducted the tests together with the forensic center, the news website said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, director of the tropical diseases hospital, said that if the findings were really true, it would be one of the world’s rarest cases of the disease. He stressed that there has been only one case in which a patient survived as the amoeba weakened and finally died.
In fact, Hieu said he would probably present the findings at conferences on the amoeba in other countries, according to VnExpress.
As much as it was shocking, the latest report still failed to find out where the boy contracted the organism – a question that has puzzled local experts and officials since the case was reported.