How is primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) transmitted?

Updated: Jul 16, 2019
  • Author: Rodrigo Hasbun, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Infection with free-living amebas is an infrequent but often life-threatening human illness, even in immunocompetent individuals. N fowleri is the only species of Naegleria recognized to be pathogenic in humans, and it is the agent of primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The parasite has been isolated in lakes, pools, ponds, rivers, tap water, and soil.

Infection occurs when a person is swimming or playing in contaminated water sources (eg, inadequately chlorinated water and sources associated with poor decontamination techniques). The N fowleri amebas invade the CNS through the nasal mucosa and cribriform plate.

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