What is Your Risk of Contracting a Brain Eating Ameba?

August 22, 2011

Health Promotion

Beware of still waters

Naegleria fowleri is a
free-living ameba found in warm bodies of water such as ponds, irrigation ditches,
lakes, coastal waters, hot springs, poorly chlorinated swimming pools and
infected tap water.  People may come into
contact with Naegleria fowleri by swimming, bathing, or inhaling these types of
water.  The ameba enters the nasal
passages then penetrates through to the brain and can cause your brain to be
infected with Naegleria fowleri causing Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis.

Primary Amebic meningoencephalitis
is a rare but nearly always fatal disease caused by infection with Naegleria
fowleri.  The only certain way to prevent
Naegleria fowleri infection is to:

  • Avoid water related activities in bodies of warm
    fresh water, hot springs, and thermally polluted water such as water around
    power plants
  • Avoid water related activities in warm fresh
    water during peroids of high water temperatures and low water volume
  • Hold the nose shut or use nose clips during
    activities in warm fresh water such as lakes, rivers or hot springs
  • Avoid digging in or stirring up sediment during
    water related activities in shallow warm freshwater areas

Statistics (in all reported cases the
infected people died)

  • In 2005 there were two cases in Oklahoma
  • In 2007 there were six cases were reported in
    the U.S. in the states of Florida, Texas, and Arizona
  • In 2008 there was one case in California
  • In 2009 there were 2 cases in Florida
  • In 2010 there were 4 cases  thar were reported in
    the U.S. in the states of  South Carolina, Minnesota , Texas, and Arkansas
  • So far in 2011 there have been 3 cases in the U.S in the
    states of  Louisiana, Florida, and Virginia

Additional information on N. fowleri infection is available
at CDC.gov

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