What are brain-eating amoebas — and how will you defend your self?

It sounds just like the plot of a horror film: lethal “brain-eating” amoebas. However for one North Carolina man, that nightmare tragically got here to life.

After swimming in a lake at a water park in Cumberland County on July 12, the person, 59-year-old Eddie Grey, turned contaminated with an amoeba, referred to as Naegleria fowleri, and later died, in line with an announcement launched by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

“The organism invades through the nose, up into the brain,” Stan Deresinski, MD, an infectious illness specialist with Stanford Well being Care, tells Yahoo Way of life. There, it destroys mind tissue, inflicting mind swelling and loss of life, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Naegleria fowleri causes this acute, rapidly progressive and most often fatal disease,” says Deresinski. “Clinically, it seems to be identical to extreme, quickly progressing bacterial meningitis.”

Signs of the an infection begin with extreme headache, fever, nausea and vomiting and may progress to a stiff neck, seizures and coma, in line with the North Carolina Division of Well being and Human Providers.

The microscopic amoeba is often present in heat, freshwater lakes and rivers (significantly in southern-tier states), in addition to scorching springs, in line with the CDC. One other potential an infection threat: nasal irrigation (also referred to as neti pots) with contaminated faucet water.

Nevertheless, you’ll be able to’t get contaminated by ingesting water contaminated with Naegleria fowleri since your abdomen acid kills it. The only-cell organism can be not present in salt water, such because the ocean. And right here’s a purpose to maintain up with pool upkeep: The amoeba shouldn’t be sometimes present in swimming pools as a result of “it’s killed by sufficient chlorine,” notes Deresinski.

It’s value noting that infections from “brain-eating” amoebas are uncommon. In keeping with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, there have been solely 145 identified people contaminated with Naegleria fowleri within the U.S. from 1962 via 2018.

Even so, how will you defend your self? Your finest guess is to maintain your head out of the water when swimming in lakes and rivers. Or higher but, put on nostril plugs.

“Rationally, I wouldn’t particularly worry about it,” says Deresinksi. “But if I lived on the lake and had a kid and that kid wanted to swim in the lake, I would have him or her wear nose clips.”

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