Brain-Eating Ameba Infographic
AtlantaHealth.com Infographic about the freshwater, brain-eating ameba - Naegleria fowleri
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What you need to know about BRAIN-EATING AMEBA (Naegleria fowleri)
What is it?
(Image: Illustrations of ameba and human brain.)
Naegleria fowleri is an ameba (microscopic, single-celled organism) that thrives on bacteria in warm, freshwater lakes, rivers and springs.
Normally, it is of no concern. If, however, a person gets contaminated water forced up their nose, the amoeba can make its way to the brain where, in just a few days, it destroys tissue, causes swelling and ends in almost certain death.
How common is it?
Between 1962 and 2013, only 132 Americans are known to have gotten infected. (U.S. averages 0-8 infections annually.)
That sounds pretty rare - so how serious can it be?
Of the 132 reported cases in those 50 years, only 3 survived.
Where is it most common... and when?
(Image: Illustrations of US states, outdoor thermometer and rain gauge.)
While Naegleria fowleri can survive anywhere in the U.S., it is heat-loving, so the great majority of infections have occurred in southern states. (But climate warming may change this.)
July, August and, to a lesser degree, September account for almost all cases. Low water levels brought on by drought or a heat wave are especially problematic.
Is there a treatment? What are the symptoms?
(Image: Illustration of symptoms checklist.)
A 2013 victim appears to have had a complete recovery, thanks to very quick diagnosis and treatment (within 36 hours) that included that the ameba-killing drug, Miltefosine, along with cooling the body below normal temperature.
Early Symptoms May Include:
- a stiff neck
- loss of sense of smell
4 Ways to protect ourselves!
(Image: Illustrations of person playing in water and feet in lake bottom sediment.)
You can't become infected from drinking or bathing in contaminated water. Infection can occur only if the ameba gets in your nose.
Summer Outdoor Water Safety Tips:
- Keep your head above warm lake or river water, or hot springs.
- Wear a nose plug when playing in warm freshwater.
- Avoid stirring-up sediment in shallow lakes or rivers.
Other Safety Tip:
- If you rinse your sinuses, use only boiled, filtered, distilled or disinfected water.
My dog loves the water. Is he or she at risk?
(Image: Illustration of dog playing in water.)
Though dogs and other animals may be susceptible, reported cases are extremely rare. (Susceptibility may vary between species.) However, you'd still be wise to practice at least a reasonable degree of caution, such as:
- Keep pets' drinking bowl clean and change water at least twice daily. As much as possible, prevent them from drinking puddle or pond water.
- Dogs that struggle to swim or those with health conditions that make swimming difficult should be supervised closely.
- Bathe or rinse dogs after swimming to prevent skin infections.
For More Information on Naegleria fowleri and summertime water safety, visit www.AtlantaHealth.com
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