An Israeli recently died after contracting a very rare “brain-eating amoeba,” the Health Ministry announced on Friday.
The ministry said it was investigating where the 36-year-old resident of northern Israel, who was otherwise healthy, may have come into contact with the organism.
The ministry said specialists had identified that the man likely suffered from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a brain infection caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri. But due to the rarity of the disease, the diagnosis was only confirmed after a sample was sent to the Center for Disease Control in the United States.
The amoeba lives in soil and warm fresh water, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs. It is commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba” because it can cause brain infection when water containing the amoeba rises through the nose, according to the CDC.
Although the infection is extremely rare, with only some 400 cases diagnosed worldwide, it is often fatal.
“The Ministry of Health is working with the Ministries of Environmental Protection and Agriculture [to find the source] and will inform the public of its findings,” the ministry said.