Definition

What is brain – eating Amoeba?

Naegleria fowleri, was known as the “brain-eating amoeba”, which is a species of the genus Naegleria. It belongs to the phylum Percolozoa. Amoebas are single-celled organisms. It is a species discovered in 1965. Although first identified in Australia, this amoeba is believed to have evolved in the U.S.

There is only one species of Naegleria infects people: Naegleria fowleri.

How common is brain – eating Amoeba?

Even though Naegleria fowleriamoebas are relatively common, they only rarely cause brain disease. Naegleria fowleridisease is known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). It occurs from zero to eight times a year, almost always from July to September. Many studies show that many people may have antibodies to N. fowleri. It suggests that they became infected with the amoeba but that their immune systems fought it off.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of brain – eating Amoeba?

Naegleria fowleri causes a disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). This disease causes brain inflammation and destruction of brain tissue.

Generally beginning within two to 15 days of exposure to the amoeba, signs and symptoms of naegleria infection may include:

  • A change in the sense of smell or taste
  • Fever
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance
  • Sleepiness
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

These signs and symptoms can progress rapidly. They typically lead to death within a week.

When should I see my doctor?

Immediate seeking medical attention if you develop a sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck and vomiting, particularly if you have recently been in warm, fresh water.

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes brain – eating Amoeba?

Naegleria fowleri is commonly found in lakes in southern-tier states during the summer but more recently has caused infections in northern states. This means that recreational water users should be aware that there will always be a low level risk of infection when entering these waters.

Naegleria infection is caused by the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, which is commonly found in warm bodies of fresh water around the world, usually during the summer months. The amoeba is also sometimes found in soil. The amoeba enters your body through your nose, via contaminated water or dust, and travels to your brain through the nerves that transmit your sense of smell.

Only a tiny percentage of the millions of people who are exposed to Naegleria fowleri ever get sick from it. People have no idea when they become infected after exposure.

The amoeba isn’t spread from person to person or by drinking contaminated water. And properly cleaned and disinfected swimming pools don’t contain the naegleria amoeba.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for brain – eating Amoeba?

Millions of people are exposed to the amoeba that causes naegleria infection each year, but few people get sick from it

Some factors that might increase your risk of naegleria infection include:

  • Freshwater swimming

Most people who become ill have been swimming in a freshwater lake within the previous two weeks.

  • Heat waves

The amoeba thrives in warm or hot water.

  • Age

Children and young adults are the most likely age groups to be affected, possibly because they’re likely to stay in the water longer and are more active in the water.

Diagnosis &treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is brain – eating Amoeba diagnosed?

The diagnosis of this disease may involve the following:

  • Imaging tests

Computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can reveal swelling and bleeding within the brain.

  • CT scan

This procedure combines X-ray views taken from many different directions into detailed cross-sectional images.

  • MRI

An MRI machine uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce extremely detailed images of soft tissues, such as the brain.

  • Spinal tap (lumbar puncture)

Naegleria amoeba can be seen under a microscope in the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord. The spinal fluid is obtained by inserting a needle between two vertebrae in your lower back. This test also can measure the cerebral spinal fluid pressure and look for inflammatory cells.

How is brain – eating Amoeba treated?

  • Few people survive naegleria infection, even with treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for survival.
  • The primary treatment for naegleria infection is an antifungal drug, amphotericin B — usually injected into a vein (intravenously) or into the space around your spinal cord to kill the amoebas.
  • An investigational drug called miltefosine (Impavido) is now available for emergency treatment of naegleria infection through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The medicine, when taken with other medications and along with aggressive management of brain swelling, may show promise for improved survival.

Lifestyle changes &home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage brain – eating Amoeba?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially if you are at high risk, is important. This includes things like:

  • Don’t swim in or jump into warm freshwater lakes and rivers.
  • Hold your nose shut or use nose clips when jumping or diving into warm bodies of fresh water.
  • Avoid disturbing the sediment while swimming in shallow, warm fresh waters. If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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