Amoeba found in soil kills gardener, turns his brain into mushy liquid

An elderly gardener died from a brain-eating amoeba found in soil after it turned part of his frontal lobe into a mushy liquid, according to researchers in Georgia.

The 82-year-old man is believed to have contracted the shape-shifting organism while potting plants at an unnamed location, and was later struck by seizures, according to a case-study, which was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The man was first treated for bacterial, fungal and viral meningitis before becoming drowsy and suffering from seizures, researchers from Emory University in Atlanta said in the report. He died nine days after being admitted to a hospital.

An autopsy revealed an amoeba had turned parts of the man’s dark matter into a mushy, “watery debris” known as “liquefactive necrosis.”

His cause of death was ultimately a rare infection of the brain and spinal cord generally caused by the species acanthamoeba, according to the report.

The patient had previously suffered from blood cancer, but had been in remission for more than a decade.

Acanthamoeba infection in the eyes can result in permanent damage to vision and blindness, according to the CDC. But most people with normal immune systems will be exposed to it at some point in their lives without getting sick.

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