Naegleria fowleri: Brain-eating amoeba killed 18-year-olds in the lake

Naegleria fowleri: Brain-eating amoeba killed 18-year-olds in the lake

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Rare deadly amoeba can be absorbed by the water
An 18-year-old teenager from the United States has now been killed by a brain-eating amoeba. The young woman from Charlotte, North Carolina, was on a church vacation when she became infected with the so-called amoeba Naegleria fowleri. This then caused a fatal infection in the brain of those affected.

American researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have now determined when examining a deceased teenage girl that an amoeba infection was present in the cerebrospinal fluid. This rare amoeba triggered a brain infection in the 18-year-old girl, which ultimately led to death. The CDC released a press release on the current case.

Rare dangerous amoeba requires warm fresh water
The rare amoeba Naegleria fowleri is usually found in warm fresh water. It also grows in pipes, but not where there is salt water. For this reason, the CDC experts explain that it cannot be found in the oceans. The teenager had taken a rubber dinghy tour at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. The boat overturned and the young woman came into contact with the water.

Water park disinfects all water using UV radiation and chlorine
In response to the tragic incident, all of the water on the U.S. National Whitewater Center property was disinfected by UV radiation and chlorine, the water park officials said in a press release. CDC officials examined the water park to clarify the teenage girl's death. To this end, the scientists took some water samples to examine in their laboratory.

How does Naegleria fowleri get into our body?
How big is the danger from so-called Naegleria fowleri? You don't get sick if you drink contaminated water, the doctors say. However, if the water contains Naegleria fowleri and is absorbed through the nose, it can come into contact with our brain. The consequences of this are almost always fatal, warn the scientists. Water can get into our nose in different ways. Either by submerging in the water or by splashing water in water slides.

Where is the greatest risk of becoming infected?
Most infections arise when swimming in warm lakes or rivers. However, there have also been cases in which swimming pool water was not properly disinfected or heated, the scientists say. Contaminated tap water can also contain the dangerous amoeba, warn the CDC experts. So-called Naegleria fowleri infections mostly occur in the summer months and are not contagious.

Infection mortality rate is 97 percent
The symptoms of the infection include headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. These usually begin about five days after the infection, the doctors explain. Another five days later, the disease often causes the death of those affected. However, the researchers again explicitly pointed out that Naegleria fowleri infections are extremely rare. The CDC reports 37 infections in the ten years from 2006 to 2015. However, the mortality rate of the infection is very high. It is 97 percent. Of the 138 people infected to date in the United States from 1963 to 2015, just three survived, the scientists explain.

How to avoid infection from Naegleria fowleri
To limit the risk of infection, CDC experts recommend the following precautions:
Limit the amount of water that gets into your nose. Cover your nose or use clips for your nose. Try to keep your head above water whenever possible when swimming in warm fresh water. Avoid water activities in warm fresh water during times of high water temperature and low water level. Avoid churning the soil and sediment during activities in shallow, warm fresh water. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Brain Eating Amoeba. Is our water safe? (August 2022).