Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba that is found in warm, shallow pools of fresh water around the world. They can be found in rivers, lakes and hot springs as well. They are also found in contaminated water, untreated bodies of water, and soil. Since it does not require a host to survive, the brain-eating amobea is considered a free-living organism. When it enters the human body, it produces a rare but dangerous infection and swelling in the brain. This can be very dangerous, as it eventually destroys the tissues in the brain by eating it. This condition has been given the name primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Brain-Eating Amoeba Claims Another Life in Kerala: 14-Year-Old Boy Dies of Rare Brain Infection PAM Linked to Naegleria Fowleri.

According to studies, brain-eating amoebas are drawn to the chemicals that nerve cells use to communicate. Once they enter the nose, they travel through the olfactory nerve, which is responsible for the sense of smell, and reach the brain's frontal lobe.

Where Is Brain Eating Amoeba Found?

Brain-eating amoeba is found in warm and shallow pools of fresh water. They can be found in rivers, lakes, waterparks, and hot springs as well. They are also found in contaminated water, untreated bodies of water, and soil.  A person can get infected by swimming, water skiing, or diving in contaminated water or water that has not been chlorinated enough or properly. Though extremely rare, it can also come from a heated tap.

How To Avoid Brain Eating Amoeba?

Since this condition is so serious, preventing it is very important. Don't swim, or do watersports in warm freshwater without using nose plugs. Avoid any water where Naegleria fowleri is likely to be present. Never use tap water to clean your nose. Always use distilled or sterilised water only. If you must use tap water, boil it for 1 to 3 minutes and let it cool first. You can use filters to remove germs from water, or use chlorine bleach tablets or liquid to disinfect the water for cleaning your nose and sinuses. If you get a fever or headache after being in warm freshwater, immediately inform your doctor or a healthcare provider.

How Rare Is the Brain Eating Amoeba?

The brain-eating amoebas are quite common but they rarely cause brain disease. When they do, it is called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). PAM occurs between 0 and 8 times a year. It mostly occurs from July to September. It is considered a rare infection.

Brain-Eating Amoeba Symptoms and Timeline

Symptoms of Naegleria fowleri infection appear within 2 to 15 days after the amoeba enters the nose. Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) starts suddenly with severe symptoms. Once it escalates, a person can get high fever, intense headache, vomiting, nausea, stiff neck, trembling, extreme sensitivity to light, confusion, or it may even result in coma. Death typically occurs 3 to 7 days after symptoms begin, with the average being 5.3 days.

Brain-Eating Amoeba Treatment

There is no right or exact treatment for it at the moment. A combination of drugs are prescribed. The best treatment for PAM is the antifungal drug amphotericin B. This along with a combination of drugs, including rifampin, amphotericin B, miltefosine and fluconazole might be prescribed by the healthcare provider.

Can Brain Eating Amoeba Be Cured?

Yes, it can be cured. The best results come from early diagnosis and treatment with the recommended medication by the healthcare provider and cooling the body to a below-normal temperature to reduce the swelling in the brain. Naegleria fowleri, the Brain-Eating Amoeba in India: How Does Infection Occur? Symptoms, Prevention and Safety Measures – Everything You Need To Know.

Even though this infection is rare, it can be very deadly even with treatment. Hence, it is important to be aware of the risks involved. Before you go swimming, diving or skiing check if the water has been tested for Naegleria Fowleri before entering it. Never go into the water without wearing nose plugs. Stay safe and make sure your loved ones stay safe too.

(This article is written for an informative purpose and should not be substituted for medical advice. Kindly consult your doctor before trying any tips.)

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 05, 2024 11:26 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website