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You are watching: How does brain-eating amoeba enter the body


You may have actually heard the term brain-eating amoeba, however what precisely is it? and also does it actually eat your brain?

The scientific name because that this amoeba is Naegleria fowleri. The a tiny, single-celled biology that’s discovered in heat freshwater and also in soil.

Contrary to its usual name, this amoeba doesn’t in reality eat your brain. Still, a Naegleria infection can cause serious mind damage and also swelling that frequently leads come death. The condition is dubbed primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

While this amoeba is found roughly the world, instances of infection room actually fairly rare. According to the Centers for an illness Control (CDC), only 34 cases were report in the unified States between the year 2008 and 2017.


Symptoms that a Naegleria epidemic can show up anywhere from 24 hrs to 14 job after early stage exposure come the amoeba.

The beforehand symptoms are similar to those that meningitis and also can include:

feversevere headachenausea or vomiting

Once the initial symptoms develop, the infection progresses rapidly.

Later symptom include:

stiff necklight sensitivityconfusionloss the balancehallucinationsseizures

The amoeba enters your body with your nose. It climate travels from her nose and also to her brain, where it starts to reason an infection. Contrary to famous belief, friend can’t construct a Naegleria infection from drinking contaminated water.

Infection typically occurs once you’re swim in a warm, freshwater lake or river. Girlfriend can additionally encounter the amoeba in various other water sources, such together contaminated madness water or improperly chlorinated pools, though this is rare.

In addition, Naegleria loves the heat and also thrives in warm or hot water, so infections often tend to happen during the summer months, especially amid extended heat waves.


The Naegleria amoeba deserve to be discovered worldwide. In enhancement to the united States, infections have actually been reported in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, and also Latin America.

In the united States, Naegleria is mostly discovered in the southern states where the climate is warmer. However, it’s also been uncovered in northern states, such together Minnesota and also Connecticut.


In recent years, there have been a couple of news stories of people arising Naegleria epidemic after utilizing neti pots to irrigate their sinuses.

These situations weren’t as result of the neti pot itself. Instead, castle were led to by making use of contaminated tap water in neti pots, which permitted the amoeba to get in people’s noses.

If you use a neti pot, these tips can help you stop an infection:

Purchase water it is labeled together “sterile” or “filtered” for use in her neti pot.Use insanity water that’s been boiled because that at the very least one minute and permitted to cool down.

If friend think friend may have actually a Naegleria infection, do an meeting to check out your healthcare provider best away. Be sure to permit them know if you’ve to be in any type of freshwater recently.

Depending on her symptoms, they might collect a sample that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) because that testing. CSF is the liquid that surrounds and protects your brain and spinal cord. It’s accumulated through a process called a lumbar puncture. This is done by inserting a needle in between two of the vertebrae in your reduced back.

A lumbar puncture can carry out information top top CSF pressure and also levels that blood cells and also proteins, which room abnormal in civilization with PAM. The yes, really Naegleria amoeba may also be clearly shows under the microscopic lense in a CSF sample.

You may likewise need to have an MRI or CT scan done on her head.


Because the epidemic is for this reason rare, there are limited studies and clinical trials about effective treatments for Naegleria infection. Most treatment information comes from of researches within a laboratory or through situation studies.

One promising treatment is the antifungal medication amphotericin B. It can be offered intravenously or injected right into the area about your spinal cord.

Another brand-new drug called miltefosine appears to be helpful for treating Naegleria infections.

Additional drugs that may be given to act Naegleria infection include:

rifampin, an antibiotic, although it might interfere with other drugs used to law the infection

Infection with Naegleria is an extremely rare, yet it’s constantly a an excellent idea to take a few precautions when you’re spending time in water.

Here’s a watch at part tips to mitigate your risk:

Avoid swimming in or jumping into freshwater lakes, rivers, or streams, especially throughout warm weather.If girlfriend do setup to swimming in freshwater, try to save your head over water. Consider using sleep clips or hold your sleep shut with your fingers.Try not to harass or absent up the sediment as soon as swimming or playing in freshwater.Make certain to only swim in pools that have been appropriately disinfected.

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Infection through the amoeba Naegleria fowleri can reason a severe and also often fatal condition called main amebic meningoencephalitis. Epidemic occurs as soon as the amoeba enters your nose and travels to her brain.

Naegleria infection is extremely rare. However, if you consistently swim in freshwater throughout warm weather, you might want to think about taking some steps to alleviate your risk.