Successful treatment of Naegleria fowleri meningoencephalitis by using intravenous amphotericin B, fluconazole and rifampicin

Jesús Vargas-Zepeda, Alejandro V Gómez-Alcalá, José Alfonso Vásquez-Morales, Leonardo Licea-Amaya, Johan F De Jonckheere, Fernando Lares-Villa
Archives of Medical Research 2005, 36 (1): 83-6

BACKGROUND: Primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is an emerging disease with a rapidly fatal outcome. Only eight reports of cured cases have appeared in the medical literature to date.

METHODS: A 10-year-old boy developed PAM caused by Naegleria fowleri 1 week after swimming in an irrigation canal. He was admitted to our hospital after 9 h of severe headache and vomiting, fever, ataxic gait, mild confusion, and seizures were evident. Trophozoites were identified in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Treatment with intravenous (i.v.) dexamethasone, amphotericin B, fluconaloze, and oral rifampicin was started. After several hours of conflicting clinical signs, recovery began, and on the third day he was conscious again. Hospital discharge occurred on day 23, after a normal brain CT scan. There was no sequel to the disease during the following 12 months.

RESULTS: The amebas present in the CSF were identified and confirmed as N. fowleri after observation of wet mounts and of cultures seeded on 1.5% non-nutrient agar plates covered with Escherichia coli, vegetative and cystic forms, enflagellation experiments in distilled water at 98 degrees F, temperature tolerance testing and by indirect immunofluorescence using N. fowleri LEE antibody. The genotype was determined by PCR amplification and sequencing of the internal transcribed spacers (ITS) including the 5.8S rDNA.

CONCLUSIONS: Early treatment of PAM by i.v. administration of amphotericin B and fluconazole, and oral administration of rifampicin can offer some hope of cure for this devastating disease.

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