“The brain-eating amoeba” is an extremely rare and fatal organism. There is hardly a survival rate once infected. The technical name of the amoeba is Naegleria fowleri. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that the cases are very rare, with only three cases being reported per year. The amoeba uses water as a channel and enters the human body through the nose. The summer months are its thriving period, and the amoeba can flourish in freshwater that remains non-chlorinated and warm. Those who swim in lakes, rivers, and hot springs are susceptible to infection.
Pools or water parks that have not been chlorinated properly are linked to certain cases. While the risk of contracting the amoeba is drastically low and a mere 29 infections have plagued the United States since 2013, it is known for resulting in fatal and sudden cases. These cases have been seen, particularly in minors. The symptoms range from fever, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, confusion, seizures, hallucinations, and coma in severe situations. Once exposed, these symptoms appearapproximately five days after being exposed to Naegleria fowleri. One must seek medical help as soon as symptoms are observed. The deadly amoeba occurs naturally in freshwater environments like lakes, rivers, and hot springs, as well as in soil that is generally warm. Here is a list of places that discharge water with amoebas in it.
● Industrial and power plants
● Geothermal well water
● Swimming pools that are not well sanitized and maintained
● Water heaters
While Ohio has never seen any cases, its residents have suffered from the infection while traveling. Water that stands at or crosses the 80-degree Fahrenheit mark generally houses the amoeba. Texas and Florida have seen the highest number of cases. California and Arizona have reported a smaller number of cases. Naegleria fowleri may result in a rare infection, but the fatality rate goes up to
97%, with only 4 individuals being able to survive since 1962. It is very difficult to diagnose those who are infected. The tests required for the infection are available only in a few labs. Shockingly, 75% of the diagnoses are made postmortem. To avoid risking infection, it is advised to avoid warm, non-chlorinated freshwater.
Avoid immersing your head underwater and protecting your nose with nose plugs while refraining from diving or jumping. Avoid playing around with lake or river sediments as well. The earth has been seeing a rise in warmer temperatures due to global warming and climate change. Naegleria fowleri infections may become more common than before. Warmer air temperatures result in warmer waters, creating more favorable conditions for the amoeba’s growth. Taking precautions to prevent water from entering the nose while engaging in water activities is a helpful safety measure to avoid Naegleria fowleri infection.