The brain eating amoeba took the life of a man in New Jersey last month and is most common in warm, freshwater bodies
Even though the amoeba is common in warm, freshwater bodies, chances of people getting sick from it or dying are very low.
Fabrizio Stabile, the man who died because of the brain eating amoeba last month has one symptom: a headache. Epidemiologist Tina Tan says that this is a common symptom for those who contract the amoeba. She added that in a year, authorities might get eight reports of infections by it, or none at all.
Even more, she added that it is important to keep in mind that hundreds of millions of people swim in water in which the amoeba is present.
“It’s important to recognize the route of transmission,” she said. “The way people get infected is when water that contains Naegleria floweri goes up the nose.”
This means, as Tan said, that people don’t get sick from swallowing water with amoeba in it and that is not spread from a person to another. In addition to this, Tan noted that those contracting the amoeba will experience symptoms within nine days.
“It is less likely to be found in the water as temperatures decline,” the CDC says on its website. “The amoeba can be found in lake or river sediment at temperatures well below where one would find the amoeba in the water.”
Symptoms of contracting the amoeba
The first and most common symptom is a headache, followed by fever, nausea or vomiting. From here, symptoms can further develop to confusion, loss of balance, seizures and even hallucinations. When it comes to progression, Tan said that it depends on the individual’s health and other factors.
How to diagnose the disease
To see if one has contracted the amoeba, obtaining spinal fluid and testing it is required. However, one of the problem doctors face with diagnosis is that the disease progresses so quickly that it can be fatal if not caught and treated in time.
The treatment for contracting the amoeba
Unfortunately, treating the disease can be difficult due to the limited window to make the diagnosis and no certain drugs to treat the infection. While certain drugs have proven to be effective in some way, their effectiveness is unclear since almost all infections have been fatal, even when individuals were administered similar drug combinations.
How to prevent getting the disease
Prevention, on the other hand, is easy. Given the fact that the amoeba is contracted through the nose, wearing nose clips or simply holding your nose closed when going under water can be a very effective method of prevention. To be even safer, people are recommended not to put their heads under water at all.
“Testing is not routinely performed on these recreational waters,” she said. “the fact is that these amoeba are pretty common and infections are rare. The relationship between finding the amoeba in the water and the occurrence of infection is unclear because of the issue of how rare this is.”