Brain-Eating Amoeba Kills Arizona Boy (updated)

Eco3 Environmental Uncategorized Brain-Eating Amoeba Kills Arizona Boy (updated)
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Microorganisms can enter our body in multiple ways. When we go swimming the expectations of contracting a deadly amoeba is not a consideration. However, we have to be proactive with our health by staying informed. I’m not a proponent of sticking anything up your nose. If you are interested, check out my other post on the dangers of Neti Pots.

The Story

 A 14-year-old Arizona boy became the 6th victim to die this year of a microscopic organism (Naegleria fowleri) which attacks the body through the nasal cavity, then quickly making its way up to the brain. Aaron Evans died on Sept. 17th from this organism doctors said he most likely contracted up a week before while swimming in Lake Havasu.

 What does the CDC have to say?

According to the Centers For Disease Control, there are only 23 reported cases of infection from 1995 to 2004. However, this year health officials said they’ve noticed a spike in cases, with 6 fatalities to date. 

*  This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it becomes more active and more prevalent.   

* Though infections tend to be found in southern states, Naegleria has been found almost everywhere in lakes, hot springs, even some swimming pools. 

* CDC reports only a few hundred cases have been reported worldwide since its discovery in the 1960s. 

* The amoeba typically live in lake bottoms, eating algae and bacteria in the sediment. People can be infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom. 

* If someone jumps into the water from a height,  the water/amoeba can be forced up the nose where the amoeba can latch onto the person’s olfactory nerve. 

*  Shortly after being infected, people tend to complain of headaches. As the damage progresses people exhibit signs of brain damage. Most people have little chance of survival as the amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up to the brain.

* Some drugs have been effective stopping the amoeba in lab experiments, but people who have been attacked rarely survive. The cycle from infection to death seems to be ~14 days.
Texas, Florida Report Cases

In addition to the Arizona case, health officials reported two cases in Texas and three more in central Florida this year. In response, central Florida authorities started an amoeba telephone hot line advising people to avoid warm, standing water, or any areas with obvious algae blooms. Texas health officials also have issued news releases about the dangers of amoeba attacks and to be cautious around water. 

Should you panic?

Infections are extremely rare given the amount of exposure a year people come into contact with water. The majority of these cases are in warmer climates or warmer bodies of water including swimming pools.

Protection

The CDC states – The easiest way to prevent infection, Beach said, is to simply plug your nose when swimming or diving in fresh water.

Update

In the summer of 2020 we had another report in Florida. The Florida Department of Health also stated such infections are rare in Florida, more common in the other southern states. Only 37 cases have been reported in Florida since 1962.

Additionally

Just like amoebas in water, and the smallest of bacteria and viruses, these little buggers are often big trouble. Too often people brush-off mold in their homes and consider mold a non issue. I can tell you first hand how mold can make you sick for a long time. Don’t underestimate the impact of mold or any pathogen. Treating your home for mold is much cheaper than paying medical bills. 

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