What Is the Brain Destroying Bug?

by barbarab

This article will state the causes and ways to prevent the amoeba Naegleria Fowleri otherwise known as brain destroying bug.

Definition of the amoeba Naegleria Fowleri

This summer, 2011, many people have learned what this amoeba is and what it does. Although this parasite has affected only three families everyone who has read or seen the reports on it have also received an education. This is one piece of health information that is truly frightening because it has a fatality rate over 95% and there has only been one person to survive the affliction. That case was in 1978 and is the only case that is reported as having survived.

What is known fills several pages; how to combat it comes down to four or five bulleted sentences.

The affliction is so called because it is not a bacteria, not a virus and cannot be treated with antibiotics. Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic amoeba, a one cell organism that is found in very warm, usually stagnant water. One source reported that it usually affects young boys, though one has to wonder if this is up to date. The way the amoeba enters the host (person's) body is through the nose and it takes a forceful jet of water at that. So, why should it affect boys more than girl's? Do only boys jump in the water without holding their nose? Do only boys do cannonballs? Also, unfortunately, the victim in Florida was a girl. The oddest case was the young man in Louisiana who contracted the amoeba from using a neti pot. If a neti pot is ever used for cleaning out sinus cavities remember to use only sterile or distilled water. Although it is a rare case it did occur and the amoeba was in the water system itself. The young man used his neti pot and the amoeba entered his olfactory system.

The amoeba is not aggressive, it does not actively seek out humans as their prey. It is an accident that the bug gets up someones nose and once it is there the amoeba does what it needs to survive; it eats. Because the track from nose to brain is short, the time of entrance to time of death is very short as well. Death comes as fast as three days, some live for two weeks.

Ways of Transmission and Signs and Symptoms

How to prevent it and how to treat it

Unfortunately, this parasite is extremely aggressive and the time of affliction is short therefore it is imperative that everyone know how this bug enters the body, what the signs and symptoms are and how to prevent this from occurring at all. Some sources state the amoeba is not a parasite, however, this is stated only in reference to the fact that it does not mean to actually harm humans. Once it is inside the human body, the result is that of a parasite.

The Naegleria Fowleri lives in stagnant water, some believe in the silt of the bottom of lades and ponds, althugh it is also found in some swimming pools. What is known is when the silt of the ponds or lake is stirred up, when someone is swimming, diving and playing the amoeba is then free in the water as well. If someone, like a child, gets choked on the water, or jumps in feet first without blowing air out of their nose, then the amoeba travels into their body by way of their nose. Entering the human nose via the nasal cavity is the only way this amoeba enters the body.

Symptoms of the affliction include the ones familiar to meningitis but must never be taken lightly. Immediately seek medical attention for headaches, changes in sense of smell, fever sometimes over 103 degrees Fahrenheit and gastric distress such as nausea and vomiting. Of course, any time a person becomes unconscious, unable to think clearly, shows signs of confusion, seizures, eyes rolling in their head, this is not a trip to the family physician. This is a 911 emergency and should never be taken lightly. Never wait for morning, Never try and ride it out. Never say, temperatures are higher in children. Get that child to the hospital immediately. Better to take them a hundred times and they live than not to take them and...

Diagnosis is not easy as the incidence of the parasite is rare and mortality occurs rapidly. If at all possible, and this may sound harsh, avoiding warm, still, stagnant waters may be the best way to prevent this bug from stealing more lives. Again, that may sound inflammatory but the parasite is not actively seeking out prey however, everyone should act as if it is. If avoiding the lakes and ponds is not possible, then make sure everyone that plays in the water does everything possible to keep the water out of their nose. There are clips to wear on the nose to keep the ater out, teach everyone to hold their nose with one hand when jumping, don't go all the way to the bottom and then push off to shoot up and out of the water. This will keep the bugs out of the body and keep the water from getting churned up.

Remember that the hottest months are the ones most likely to have the amoeba in the water. Although it is said lthat incidents of this bug occurs most in the southern states, it will occur anywhere there is a pond or a lake with very warm water that has been still long enough to grow parasites. With global warming increasing, the liklihood that this parasite will only occur in the south no longer applies. Great care needs to be taken with children and swimming during July, August and September as these are the hottest months of the year; most years. This year, 2011, has been unseasonably warm with northern and southern states seeing record breaking heat indexes. Remember that the affliction from this parasite cannot be transmitted person to person nor can it be contracted from ingesting the contaminated water. Also, even though there may be a dozen kids swimming in the contaminated, all will not contract meningioencephalitis. Vigilence must remain strong; the signs and symptoms and ways to prevent must never be forgotten.

 

 

Updated: 08/22/2011, barbarab
 
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