Naegleria fowleri or the brain-eating amoeba was discovered on 1965 in Australia although there are reasons to believe that it originated in the US, a single-celled organism from the Naegleria family. Only fowleri species, which has several sub types, are known to cause human disease. This eight to fifteen micrometers amoeba reproduces like any other kinds of amoebas – cell division – and turn into the feeding form trophozoites. These killer amoebas can be contracted from warm water of up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit like aquariums, geothermal and hot springs, indoor dust, lakes, mud puddles, municipal water, ponds, pools, power plants runoff, rock pits, slow-flowing rivers, soil, spas, and well water – all untreated.
Naegleria fowleri gets into the human body through the nose which means that cleaning nostrils with untreated water, diving, dunking head into the water, water skiing, or any water sports is a means for infection. It then travel into the olfactory nerve all the way to the brain’s frontal lobe. There, it uses that brain as its food because the nerve cells chemicals attracts it. The entire process takes about two to fifteen days and symptoms will begin to show up. These will include headache, altered mental state, fever, appetite loss, stiff neck, seizures, vomiting, and lastly, coma. It takes three to seven days before the patient dies although rarely, patients survive.
Complications of Brain-Eating Amoeba
There is no known complication of Naegleria fowleri since it is a very fatal disease but if the patient survives, it can alter the sense of taste and mental state of a person. The good thing is that it is not contagious in any way.
Prevention of Brain-Eating Amoeba
- Avoid swimming in very warm water. It is established that the brain-eating amoeba loves very warm water and can for a fact live in very high temperatures. Therefore, it is important to steer clear from warm waters like lakes, rivers, and hot springs. If going for a swim, the best choices will be those where these amoebas can’t live – saltwater and treated water.
- Use protective nose clip when diving or any form of water sport that can force water to the nose. Infection to brain-eating amoeba occurs through the nose so as prevention, using a nose clip is imperative. This will keep all those pesky microscopic things at bay and at the same time keep your nose from getting hurt to the force of water going through it.
- Use treated water in cleaning nostrils. Cleaning nostrils with tap water that may be infected with Naegleria fowleri is another means of getting infected with the disease. It is then wise to use treated water so as to ensure that the water is safe from the dangerous microorganism.
- Indulge in a healthy lifestyle. As a primary defense against diseases, have a balanced diet, proper exercise, and enough rest. All these things will surely keep all diseases at bay all the time. More importantly, you save big time in effort, time, and money for all kinds of hospitalization needs.