Thursday, August 18, 2011

Brain Eating Amoeba - Naegleria fowleri

The brain eating amoeba, which is also known as Naegleria fowleri or N. fowleri, can cause a rare but deadly infection. According to, only 32 infections were reported in the U.S. from 2001 to 2010.

N. fowleri is found in warm freshwater lakes and rivers. Most cases reported occur in Florida, Texas and Arizona. Typically, infections occur during the summer months of July through September. This amoeba infects people by traveling up their nose and into the brain. It then destroys the brain tissue of its victim.

You cannot be infected by drinking contaminated water. Contaminated water must enter your nose for any possibility of infection. Unfortunately, most infections are fatal. However, you are more likely to die from drowning, if you frequently enjoy freshwater activity. In the last 10 years, only 32 people were infected with N. fowleri, while 36,000 drowned.

You can minimize your chance of infection by avoiding freshwater activity during extending hot periods of the summer, especially if the water levels are lower than normal. Also avoid disturbing sediment on the bottom of warm lakes and rivers. As an added precaution, use nose clips.


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