Brain Eating Amoeba Deadly But Rare
It does sound like something from a sci-fi or horror flick, in fact the first time that I heard of the brain eating amoeba I immediately thought of that old Star Trek movie The Wrath of Khan. The part in particular that comes to mind is the scene where Khan inserts a mind controlling parasite into Chekov's helmet before then putting the helmet onto Chekov's head.
Unfortunately the Naegleria fowleri which is commonly reffered to as the brain eating amoeba is all to real. This single cell organism lives and is typically found in fresh waters sources in Southern States. Such as lakes, rives, ponds and even poorly maintained swimming pools. There has also been at least one case where it was found in tap water.
So far this summer the brain eating amoeba has taken the lives of 3 people in the United States. True this isn't a large number of people but something that you might want to remember is that once infected with Naegleria fowleri your chances of surviving are approx. 2 %.
How Does Infection Occur
Naegleria fowleri infects people through the nose, it then travels to the brain where it starts to destroy brain tissue.
Most people become infected while swimming in fresh water that has become infected, but one victim this year became infected from flushing his sinuses with a neti pot using tap water that was infected with the amoeba.
What Are The Symptoms Of Naegleria Fowleri Infection
The first symptoms start appearing approx. 1-7 days after infection has occurred, these symptoms include a headache in the frontal area of the head, fever,stiff neck, nausea and vomiting. As the illness progresses you can expect confusion, dizziness, seizures and hallucinations. Once the first symptoms appear the disease will progress rapidly and death usually follows within 1-12 afterwards.
1. Can you catch it from an infected person?
No it cannot be passed from one person to another.
2. Can you catch it from a swimming pool?
It's very possible for the amoeba to be present in non-chlorinated pools that have not been properly maintained.
3. Is there a cure for Naegleria fowleri?
At this time there is no cure for the condition.
4. Can you catch it from drinking contaminated water?
So far there have been no known cases of anyone contracting it from drinking contaminated water.
5. What is the best way to avoid catching the brain eating amoeba?
The best way to prevent it is to plug your nose when swimming or diving in fresh water. Also take care to avoid warm stagnate water where the bacteria thrives. When using a neti-pot take care to use only boiled or purified water.