Brain eating amoeba
Brain Eating Amoeba (USCDC / Public domain)

Brain Eating Amoeba: 5 Facts, Causes, Symptoms, and When To See A Doctor

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The brain eating amoeba is a one-celled organism that usually lives in fresh, warm water and on the ground. In the medical world, this amoeba is called Naegleria fowleri.

Although its name is brain eating amoeba, organisms do not literally eat your brain. However, this amoeba can cause damage and swelling that has a serious impact on the brain.

The disease caused by brain eating amoeba is called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). PAM includes a fairly rare case of infection.

Brain Eating Amoeba Facts

Living in warm waters

Amoeba Naegleria Fowleri loves to live in warm waters like lakes, rivers, or hot spring ponds. In some cases it can even be found in swimming pools that are not given chlorine well.

The Institute for Control and Prevention of diseases in the United States (CDC) said this amoeba can survive in water with temperatures reaching 46 degrees Celsius.

Naegleria fowleri but unknown not found in sea water.

Enter through the nose

Infection occurs not because someone accidentally swallowed contaminated water. Because when such an occurrence of the amoeba will enter the digestive tract is not a threat.

Problems arise when water accidentally enters the nose. From there, the amoeba can enter the brain, destroying existing tissue and trigger inflammation. Usually if this is the case of infection will lead to death.

Almost always fatal

Infections caused by Naegleria fowleri almost all lead to death. The CDC said from about 138 people in 1962-2015 who were recorded to have an infection, only three of them were able to survive. This means that the mortality rate is at 98 percent.

The case is slightly

Although the case of amoeba infections is deadly, the number of cases is not so much. Examples in the United States alone throughout the years 2006 to 2015 by the CDC noted there were only 37 cases.

Difficult to be exterminated

Researchers until now do not know how to eliminate amoeba Naegleria fowleri that appear naturally in rivers, lakes, or other freshwater sources. Therefore, people who swim in such a place should always assume there is a small risk to be infected.

CDC recommends if you really want to swim, then you should use a nose clip or keeping the head on top of the water surface to prevent the possibility of amoeba getting into the nose.

What causes brain-eating amoeba?

Naegleria fowleri is common to the lake in the southern states in the summer, but lately infections also occur in the northern states. This means that users of recreational water should be cautious with low risk of infection when entering the water.

Naegleria infection is caused by amoeba Naegleria fowleri, which is commonly found in freshwater around the world, especially in the summer months. The amoeba is also sometimes found in soil. Amoeba enters the body through the nose, through contaminated water or dust, and moves to the brain through the nerve that carries the sense of smell.

Only a small percentage of the millions of people exposed to Naegleria fowleri experienced pain. Why some people infected and some uninfected are unknown.

Amoeba does not spread from person to person or by drinking contaminated water. The cleaned and disinfected swimming pool does not contain amoeba Naegleria.

Brain eating amoeba symptoms

Symptoms of primary amebic meningoencephalitis begin to appear within 2-15 days after a person is exposed to the brain eating amoeba. The indicative can be:

  • Fever.
  • Change in perception of taste or smell sense.
  • Headaches are severe, and come suddenly.
  • Stiffness of the neck.
  • Sensitive to light.
  • Ongoing drowsiness.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Loss of balance.
  • Confusion or Daze.
  • Convulsions.
  • Hallucinations.

The symptoms of Naegleria infection can deteriorate rapidly. PAM due to brain eating amoeba can even cause death within one week.

When should You check with a doctor?

Immediately seek medical attention if you have fever, headache, stiff neck and vomiting suddenly, especially if you are just out of warm and fresh water.

If you have any of the signs or symptoms above or any other question, consult it with your doctor. Each person’s body is different. Always consult a doctor to treat your health condition.

Read also:
Brain Tumor: The Types, Causes, and Symptoms

Last Updated on July 4, 2020 Reviewed by Market Health Beauty Team

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