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June 13, 1980

Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center (Drs Rothrock and Buchsbaum); and the Tucson Medical Center (Dr Buchsbaum); Tucson, Ariz.

JAMA. 1980;243(22):2329-2330. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300480049028

PRIMARY amebic meningoencephalitis is an acute, fulminating, purulent meningoencephalitis caused by free-living amebas of the genus Naegleria. It chiefly afflicts children and young adults in otherwise good health. Mortality approaches 100%. Although in this country most cases have been from the southeastern states, notably Virginia, the following case report helps to emphasize that no region is geographically immune.

Report of a Case  An 18-year-old man was admitted to the Tucson Medical Center, Tucson, Ariz, after a two-day history of headache, stiff neck, and fever. The patient had been in excellent health until two days before admission. He gave a history of swimming in a desert lake near Las Vegas several days before admission.The patient appeared healthy, alert, and fully oriented, although complaining of headache. His temperature was 38.2 c orally, and he had moderate nuchal rigidity. There were no other abnormal signs.The initial peripheral WBC count was 15,800/cu