If you think we have had it all in 2020, and nothing can surprise or frighten us anymore, it’s time to brace yourself. As if the deadly novel coronavirus wasn’t enough to make our lives miserable, a brain-eating amoeba strain is causing major worry over the US and other nations. Named as Naegleria fowleri, the amoeba is now spreading to the northern United States. Earlier, the cases were limited to southern US, but the climate change may be behind the unexpected spread.
Back in September this year, the news of a six-year-old Texas boy losing his life to the brain-eating amoeba sent shock waves around the US. The boy, who breathed his last on September 8, was infected with the amoeba which was later found in his community’s water supply.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the cases are now spreading up, moving towards the Midwestern states. While the CDC has confirmed that one cannot get infected from drinking water contaminated with amoeba, the micro-organism can turn deadly for you if the contaminated water gets into the nose of a person.
The amoeba enters the body through the nasal membranes and penetrates to the brain, causing powerful migraine, hyperthermia, stiff neck and vomiting, then dizziness, extreme fatigue, confusion and hallucinations.
For more information on the amoeba, click here.
In a new study published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases, the spread of N. fowleri can be credited to “rising temperatures and consequent increases in recreational water use.” However, further investigations will be needed to substantiate the claims. In addition, there has also been an increase in the worldwide cases of the infection, which may be due to changes in international diagnostic capacity.
Naegleria fowleri is reported to live in warm freshwater and soil. Since the amoeba has to enter through our nose, swimming in such water can also prove harmful. The disease caused by this amoeba is known as essential amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
The CDC has also categorized Naegleria fowleri infections are to be rare. Taking a look at the data, there have been 34 cases of infection in the 10 years (2010-2019). Also, such infections are generally reported to be caused around the summer months of July, August, and September, as the temperature remains a little warm, giving perfect surrounding for amoeba to grow.
The worst part is, there is no test designed as of now to detect the presence of amoeba in one’s body. Therefore, it may take days for the patient to reflect the symptoms, which may turn out to be deadly.