Contracting an infection of the brain is more common than some expect. Naegleria Fowleri is a dangerous amoeba parasite that is invisible to the naked eye. This is why it is important to understand the ways a person can come into contact with Naegleria Fowleri, the symptoms of brain infection, and treatment options for this brain eating disease.
Amoeba parasites can be found in warm bodies of water, mud puddles, and low flowing creeks or rivers. Untreated swimming pools, thermally polluted water, and hot springs are also at risk. Amoeba parasites not only survive, but thrive in hot temperatures.
What is Naegleria Fowleri?
The scientific name for the brain eating amoeba parasite is Naegleria Fowleri. Simply put, Naegleria Fowleri is a brain eating disease. The brain is a source of food for amoeba parasites. The brain eating parasite may enter the body many ways, but it is most dangerous if it enters the body through the nose. The nose is a direct pathway to the brain. Amoeba parasites do not feed on any other body organs.
More people contract this Naegleria Fowleri than reported. In some cases, the body fights off the brain eating amoeba parasite on its own. In other cases, the brain eating parasite may go misdiagnosed, untreated, and can cause a fairly sudden death.
Naegleria Fowleri Symptoms
Someone who has Naegleria Fowleri may experience the following symptoms:
- Stiff neck or headache
- Loss of appetite
- Altered mental states
Brain Eating Amoeba Parasite Treatment
Doctors continue to study amoeba parasites. There are no current treatment options that can guarantee a cure, although some success has been seen by combining a variety of treatments. The best course of action is prevention. This is why it is advisable to wear nose protection while engaging in any fresh water activities and sports, especially if the water is warm and still.
Naegleria Fowleri Survivor
Kali Hardig is a 12-year old girl who came into contact with the brain eating amoeba parasite at an Arkansas water park. She contracted primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, and she is one of only two survivors of this serious infection within the last 50 years. During those 50 years, there have been 128 cases reported in total.
Kali’s treatment involved antibiotics, anti fungal medicine, and an experiment anti amoeba drug that Kali’s doctors received directly from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the hospital, Kali’s doctors also kept her body temperature at 93 degrees Celsius.
Naegleria Fowleri Death
Although this treatment worked for Kali over a period of six weeks, this same Naegleria Fowleri treatment failed to work for a 12-year old boy from Florida. He passed away in August after contracting Naegleria Fowleri while kneeboarding in a ditch filled with warm water by his family’s house.
Amoeba Parasite Prevention
The survival rate of this brain eating amoeba parasite is less than 1%, making Naegleria Fowleri prevention very important. Be sure to wear ear plugs and nose guards while swimming in fresh, warm water. In addition, be selective about which bodies of water your family is (and is not) allowed to swim in. Make sure that your children understand your water safety rules and the reasons behind them.
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