The brain eating amoeba is a rare but deadly infection. It’s caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, which lives in warm freshwater lakes and rivers. The infection can cause illness and death within days, so it’s important to know how to prevent infection if you swim in warm freshwater. If you think you’ve been exposed to Naegleria fowleri, talk with your doctor right away about how best to protect yourself from this serious disease.
What is Brain Eating Amoeba?
Brain eating amoeba is a microscopic organism that can cause a brain infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Brain eating amoeba is a single-celled organism called Naegleria fowleri. This organism lives in warm freshwaters such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs. While it is usually harmless to humans, it can cause serious infections if water containing it gets up your nose. The amoeba then travels to the brain where it causes PAM by destroying brain tissue, causing swelling of the brain and death.
Where is it found?
It’s important that you know where to find Brain Eating Amoeba. The amoeba is found in fresh water, including lakes, rivers, and streams. It can be found in shallow waters found in warm climates as well as stagnant waters of any temperature.
You should be aware that the amoeba is not limited to just freshwater sources: it can also thrive in saltwater environments such as beaches and oceans. It’s also found in soil that has been contaminated with feces from infected animals.
Brain-eating Amoeba has been known to survive for a period of up to three weeks within water sources that have been treated by chlorination; however, this treatment is not effective at eliminating all microorganisms from the treated water source (especially protozoan parasites like Naegleria fowleri).
Symptoms of Brain Eating Amoeba infection
Brain-eating Amoeba infection (Naegleria fowleri) is a rare but deadly infection that can cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which is fatal in 99% of cases. There are three stages of the disease:
Stage 1: This stage occurs when the amoeba travels up through the nose and enters the brain. It starts with a severe frontal headache, fever, and the feeling of pressure in the sinuses.
Stage 2: During this stage, symptoms include a stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, seizures, hallucinations, and ultimately death.
Stage 3: This stage can occur if treatment is not given immediately; however, it usually happens within hours after symptoms start to appear. During this stage, people who are infected may experience confusion or hallucinations before lapsing into a coma or death.
How does Brain Eating Amoeba kill people?
Brain-Eating Amoeba can kill you by causing an infection that infects the brain. The amoeba itself is not dangerous, but it can cause a fatal infection if it gets into your body through your nose or an open wound.
When you first get infected, you will likely have no symptoms at all. It takes between 1-4 weeks for symptoms to appear, and those symptoms include headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, fever, confusion, and loss of balance. If left untreated, it can cause death or permanent disability like loss of arms or legs, hearing loss or memory problems.
How to avoid Brain Eating Amoeba infection?
As it is with most injuries and illnesses, prevention is the best way to avoid infection. In order to avoid Brain Eating Amoeba infection, you should take the following precautions:
- Avoid swimming or jumping into water bodies when it’s hot outside (especially during summer).
- Avoid putting your head under water while swimming.
- Use nose clips if you’re going to swim in a lake or river with a high risk of Naegleria fowleri infection.
- Avoid drinking water from sources that do not provide safe drinking water such as private wells that are not regularly tested for contaminants.
How to detect Brain Eating Amoeba infection?
If your child has been diagnosed with a brain infection by a doctor, the first step is to determine if it’s caused by Naegleria fowleri. A diagnostic test called PCR (polymerase chain reaction) can be performed on nasal secretions or spinal fluid to confirm that the infection is due to Naegleria fowleri.
If the test comes back negative for Naegleria fowleri, you should still receive a thorough neurological exam, MRI and CT scan of the brain. Your physician may also recommend other tests such as lumbar puncture—where cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is drained from around your spine through a needle into a test tube—and blood tests to rule out other causes of your child’s symptoms such as West Nile virus, Lyme disease and viral meningitis.
Treatment of Brain Eating Amoeba infection
The treatment of Brain Eating Amoeba infection is not very effective. There is no vaccine to prevent brain-eating Amoeba infection. The only treatment for Brain Eating Amoeba infection is to get rid of the amoeba from the brain.
If you think your child has been exposed, doctors will begin treating them with an antifungal drug called amphotericin B as well as another drug called miltefosine (Impavido). These drugs are given intravenously in a hospital setting and taken out of the body as soon as possible because they can cause serious side effects including kidney damage and liver problems.
How do parents save their children from Brain Eating Amoeba infection?
As a parent, you should know the risks and prevention measures. In order to prevent your child from contracting this illness, there are some things that you can do:
- Avoid swimming in water that is not chlorinated (pools, hot tubs)
- Use earplugs if you use a chlorinated pool.
- Do not allow your child to swim if they have a cold or any other illness that affects the nose or ears
We hope that this article has helped you understand the real threats of Brain Eating Amoeba infection. It is important for guardians to be aware of the symptoms and know how to prevent them from happening to their children. If your child shows any signs of illness such as headache, fever or vomiting then visit a doctor immediately.
Read Also: How to Treat a Dog Bite