What is Brain-Eating Amoeba (Naegleria Fowleri)? Symptoms & Treatment

What is Brain-Eating Amoeba (Naegleria Fowleri)?

Naegleria fowleri, or the brain-eating amoeba, as it is popularly known, is a species of amoeba, as it gets its name. It is mostly found in fresh water and soil such as lakes, rivers and hot springs. Naegleria fowleri, on the other hand, is only one of the Naegleria species that is dangerous for human health.

How is a Brain-Eating Amoeba Transmitted?

Naegleria fowleri is only dangerous when transmitted through the nose. If you have swam in water that harbored this species, or if you somehow got water in your nose, you run the risk of contracting the disease. So, you won’t get sick by drinking water containing Naegleria fowleri. This amoeba reaches the brain only through the nose and begins to destroy the brain tissue.

Where are Brain-Eating Amoeba Located?

It can be found in fresh waters such as lakes and rivers, geothermal waters, spas, pool waters that are not well chlorinated. Naegleria fowleri is not found in salty waters such as the seas. If the pool water is properly chlorinated and purified, you will not get an infection from it.

How Common is Naegleria Fowleri?

In the 10 years, between 2006 and 2015, there are only 37 cases reported in the US. Since the mode of transmission is mostly by swimming, transmission is most common in the summer months. Mortality rate is over 97%. Only 148 cases have been reported in the US over 57 years, of which only 4 have survived.

Brain-Eating Amoeba

Can Naegleria Fowleri be Transmitted From Person to Person?

No, there is no human-to-human transmission. Being in contact with someone who has the disease does not cause you to contract the disease. As we mentioned on the way of transmission, this is possible when a water source containing Naegleria fowleri enters through the nose and reaches the brain.

This does not happen in chlorinated water sources. For such reasons, it is recommended to use distilled water or sterilized water by boiling in nasal cleaning applications. Because it is known that Naegleria fowleri can also be found in water pipes and drinking springs.

What are the Symptoms of Brain-Eating Amoeba?

Brain-eating amoeba symptoms are similar to bacterial meningitis. Initial symptoms usually begin after 5 days, but may take 1 to 7 days. These; headache, fever, nausea or vomiting may occur. progressive symptoms; stiff neck, confusion, distraction from the environment and people, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations.

About the onset of symptoms, the disease spreads rapidly and usually results in death within 5 days (between 1 and 12 days). What causes death; The infection kills the brain tissue and creates edema in the brain.

Symptoms of brain-eating amoeba can also occur in many other diseases, such as meningitis. Therefore, if there is any discomfort, it is useful to apply to a health institution without panicking.

Naegleria Fowleri

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Is There an Effective Treatment for Naegleria Fowleri?

Not fully known. There are several drugs that are effective on Naegleria fowleri under laboratory conditions. However, the results are not entirely clear, as most patients die. Recently, 2 people got rid of the infection (in combination with other drugs) thanks to a new drug called miltefosine.

It should be noted that one of the reasons why an effective method has not been found yet is related to the very rare occurrence of the disease. Although there are successful studies on laboratory conditions, their effectiveness should also be tested on humans. However, in low case numbers, it is very difficult to extract meaningful data from such experiments and to obtain healthy results.

At What Temperatures is Naegleria Fowleri Found?

Naegleria fowleri is a heat-loving (thermophilic) organism. It grows quite well up to 46°C. It is also resistant to higher temperatures for short periods.

What does Naegleria Fowleri Feed On?

They feed on other organisms, such as bacteria, that live in sediments at the bottom of rivers and lakes.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/general.html

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