Before you panic, this brain-eating amoeba has been in existence for decades. The CDC has found a sudden spike in the number of cases and has given out a few guidelines to follow before you go for your sweet summer swim.
How Rare Is Brain-Eating Amoeba?
Brain-eating amoeba AKA Naegleria Fowleri was found by Dr. M.Fowler and R.Carter in 1965. They categorized these species under the amoeboflagellate family. According to CDC, only 121 cases have been reported in the U.S. since its discovery. The amoeba is rare and has been infecting a few people. Children and young adults are the usual victims.
Naegleria Fowleri Life-Cycle
Let’s understand at which stage the amoeba is the most infective before we jump into the specifics.
Fowleri is the only single-celled amoeba in the Naegleria family that is known to infect humans. They have three stages in their life-cycle; cyst, trophozoite, and flagellate. The trophozoite stage is the only stage where they can infect humans.
They are usually found in warm waters and enter the olfactory through the nose. They are only in freshwater bodies such as lakes, rivers, canals, and ponds. Researchers speculate that trophozoite Fowleri can enter the nose only through forceful penetration during diving or jumping into the water.
How Does the Brain-Eating Amoeba Infect You?
Primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is a type of brain infection that can result in death. Improperly maintained pools, warm water bodies with contaminated sediments. Testing the cerebral fluid can show the presence of these bodies, and survival chances are less. Researchers are currently developing CPR tests to diagnose the same.
Is There a Cure for Brain-Eating Amoeba?
Yes and no. Fowleri is a fast-progressing and aggressive disease. Since the infection rates are low, doctors usually don’t diagnose Fowleri. Thus, only one person has survived it so far. Fowleri takes around 3 to 7 days to infect a person, here are a few brain-eating amoeba symptoms:
- Common flu symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting
Death can occur after 7 to 14 days of infection. Patients are usually diagnosed only during an autopsy. The CDC has found a sudden spike in the number of cases post the pandemic. Though there are Chlorpromazine and antifungal medications such as Amphotericin B to treat the disease, delayed treatment can cost too many lives.
How to Avoid Brain-Eating Amoeba?
Unlike the coronavirus, Fowleri can cause trouble only if it enters through the nose. The best way to prevent your family and yourself is by:
- Avoid jumping or diving into freshwater.
- Wear nose plugs
- Don’t put your head underwater
- If you can, avoid swimming in freshwater bodies.
If you get sick after swimming, ask your physician to check for Naegleria Fowleri specifically. The brain-eating amoeba infection rate is high in Florida and California.