Dangerous Brain-Eating Amoeba Spreading in the US

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have alerted that a dangerous brain-eating amoeba is gradually spreading across the United States. The single-cell amoeba, called naegleria fowleri, is typically found in warm freshwaters like lakes, rivers, ponds, and springs. It is usually found in the more humid states like Florida. Often, the amoeba enters the body through the nose from where it heads to the brain. When the organism enters the brain through the olfactory nerves, it damages brain tissue and causes a harmful brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Even though the infection is very uncommon, it is indeed fatal. 

The brain-eating amoeba is progressively nearing northwards from the southern United States, with many cases springing up in Midwestern states than previously. This is what the study revealed by the researchers in the Emerging Infectious Diseases. As indicated by the study, 145 individuals got the infection somewhere between 1962 and 2018 in the US, out of which just four have survived. 

The researchers examined 85 cases of single-celled amoeba across the US somewhere in the range of 1978 and 2018. While the more significant part of the cases was accounted for in the southern states, six were accounted for in the Midwest, including Minnesota, Kansas, and Indiana. Of these six northern cases, five were accounted for after 2010, the report said.

Quick Look About Naegleria Fowleri

Naegleria Fowleri is the brain-eating single-cell organism that usually lives in freshwater, including rivers, lakes, ponds, even trench water, and hot springs, under chlorinated splash pads, and has been discovered in the public water systems after fatalities occurred from nasal flushing with net-pots without distilled or purified water. It survives, grows, and feeds on bacteria and is hazardous when the water temperature is warm, almost 80 degrees, and hotter.

Did You Know?

  • Naegleria fowleri does not survive inappropriately chlorinated pools or saltwater.
  • Naegleria fowleri is not dangerous whenever swallowed.
  • Infections typically happen between June and September.
  • Early symptoms include headache, fever, vomiting, and progress to confusion, loss of balance, seizures, sight sensitivity, and hallucinations.
  • There is no rapid detection test as of the moment.
  • Naegleria fowleri has been found in shallow and deep waters as well as sediments.
  • The casualty rate is more than 99%, with just two reported survivors in the US.
  • There is currently no guaranteed cure. But it is 100% preventable.

Recent Cases of the Brain-Eating Amoeba

Human infections have indeed been rare throughout history. However, cases have been increasing. There have been recently recorded cases of this brain-eating single-celled amoeba. 

Individuals are typically infected when contaminated water enters the body through the nose, as indicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the most part, systems start around five days after infection, with death happening around five days after the fact, as per the CDC.

2016

An Ohio college student who went underwater in the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte was killed with the brain-eating amoeba. The family of 18-year-old Lauren Seitz of Westerville, Ohio, settled a wrongful-death complaint in April. Seitz died 11 days after being tossed over the edge and submerged in the middle during a 2016 church trip.

2019

A man from North Carolina has passed on from the same rare brain-eating amoeba after swimming in an artificial Fantasy Lake Water Park, as reported by the authorities. The state Department of Health and Human Resources said in a news release that the infection was caused by the amoeba ordinarily present in warm freshwater throughout the summer.

2020

This year, about 30,000 residents in southeast Texas must boil up their water before using it. This comes following a 6-year-old boy who died recently after getting an uncommon, brain-eating amoeba from the local water supply. The victim's mother stated that the amoeba went from a local splash pad or could be from the garden hose at their home in Lake Jackson. An unexpected surge of side effects that began with a migraine at home ended with brain seizures and strokes in the hospital.

There May Be More Cases Than Recorded

Specialists estimate that somewhere in the range of 3 and 8 Americans die from N. fowleri yearly. Those casualties are typically young and male, the demographic well on the way to hop into a warm lake. 
In 2018, the CDC tried to respond to this inquiry, analyzing autopsy examination information of children. They assessed 16 US children are killed by N. fowleri every year — double the official count.
Bowling Green University associate professor Travis Heggie, who directed public safety programs for the US National Park Service from 2004 to 2006, often has debates with the CDC regarding brain-eating amoeba as not rare. This single-celled amoeba is found in soil profiles throughout the planet, and it usually's happening.
Yoder, from CDC, understands the worries by calling the presence of amoeba "rare." Why it just affects or why they identify a couple of cases a year is genuinely unknown because it appears as though it's generally entirely expected in those bodies of water.

Climatic Change Blamed for the Spread of the Amoeba

The CDC researchers blamed climate change for the developing number of PAM cases across the US. The single-celled amoeba flourishes in waters of 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius). As a greater amount of the US warms because of climate change, it is discovering reasonable waters for its life, they said. 

They noticed that cases are moving toward the north by around 8.2 miles (13.3 kilometers) each year.

Apart from the rising temperatures, subsequent increases in recreational water use, like swimming and water sports, might be adding to the changing the study of disease transmission of PAM, the researcher wrote in the examination.

US Waters are Getting Warmer; Good News for Amoebas

N. fowleri infections peak in Southern states in the late summer as it warms up. The amoeba loves heat and flourishes in temperatures of up to 115°F. 

But as the world warms, more freshwater is accessible at bursting temperatures, giving N. fowleri a more prominent spread of thriving choices. 

It's a worry worldwide — there were 16 N. fowleri fatalities in Pakistan in 2019, two in Costa Rica in 2020 — yet in addition in places of the US that beforehand couldn't have ever been so warm. 

In a Southern state like Arizona, the average summer temperature goes from 90°F to 120°F, ideal for N. fowleri. In a state like New York, average summer temperatures range from 70°F to 85°F. However, that is evolving. 

CDC stated that there are concerns that if waters keep on warming in northern states, there might be to a greater extent a danger to individuals who go in the water in those states.

The single-celled amoeba doesn't simply live in lakes. 

In 2002 an Arizona woman who filled a kiddie pool off with contaminated well-water accidentally prompted her little girl's passing. 

One Louisiana county even had its water system test positive for the amoeba, prompting two deaths. One of the casualties was a four-year-old kid who let the water go up to his nose while on a backyard slip-n-slide. The other was a man who used his home faucet water in a neti pot.

Signs and Symptoms of the Brain Infection

Whenever this single-celled amoeba has infected one, survival is rare, as indicated by Dr. David Kaufman, professor, and chair at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in the Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology. 

As per him, manifestations, as a rule, start within 24 hours of the brain infection. However, it takes a couple of days to arise. The most well-known side effect of primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is a severe headache. But the brain infection can prompt seizures and weakness in the face, arms, legs, and speech loss. 

Medication to anti-amoeba might be insufficient if the infection becomes overpowering.

How To Prevent the Brain Infection

There is no rapid test for the identification of this organism in water. Accordingly, the CDC said that the solitary sure approach to prevent these diseases is not to swim in warm freshwater. If you swim in warm freshwater, attempt to try not to have water go up to your nose by holding your nose shut, using nose clips, or keeping your head above water, it said. 

Infections happen when contaminated water goes up an individual's nose, however swallowing contaminated water won't cause the infection, the CDC added.


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