Brain-eating amoebas pose danger to families


Michelle Cagnassola

Brain Eating amoebas gained resurgence over the summer in 2016. One case in Florida quickly started to spread to other southern states such as North Carolina. While playing in a pool, lake, or area of contaminated water, the brain eating amoeba enters through the nasal cavity once the face is submerged under water. The amoeba had been discovered previously to the major outbreak, but little knowledge of the amoeba made the situation seem like a freak accident. Brain eating amoebas take form when a single cell reproduces asexually in the right conditions, such as warm weather. These organisms manifest in community pools and lakes and freshwater bodies, but not oceans due to its high salinity. The only way for the amoeba to enter the body is through the nasal passage; swallowing or drinking the water does not allow for the parasites to travel to the brain.
Professionally known as Naegleria fowleri, the organism causes horrible symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fever, stiffness in the neck, and a difference in smell and taste. A recent study found that if Neti Pots are used incorrectly it can cause a brain eating amoeba. According to CBS article, “Tap water in neti pots behind two brain-eating amoeba deaths in 2011, investigation finds” explains to audiences that researchers found that two people contracted the parasite after using tap water to clear sinuses in 2011.
The amoeba is no parasite to take lightly. It can kill within two days and leave a victim in severe pain and even hospitalized. Luckily, due to new technology, the parasite can be ejected from the body, but if not found in time, the amoeba will begin its feast and death could come as a result. Many who were aware of the epidemic occurring worried most for their children who were playing in the waters during hot summer days.

Brain eating graphic

“I think this is one of those cases where you have a really rare condition that has such dramatic effects that it creates a larger widespread fear. The actual number of people who become infected with the Naegleria fowleri amoeba is really low,” biology teacher Lauren Denicola said.
“As a parent, I know I would be really cautious about letting my kids into any water that was previously known to have had the amoeba. But what I think is more important is educating people. As the weather warms, people should know how the amoeba can be contracted and early symptoms of infection. There is a treatment available, but because the symptoms are so similar to a regular cold and flu, by the time it is identified as the amoeba it’s often too late,” Denicola said.  
Doctors tell people not to worry too much because contracting Naegleria fowleri is not as common as the news makes it seem. News sites were sending out awareness to educate the public and be cautious of the small killer. The brain-eating amoeba even though not common, is an epidemic that occurs in the summer due to the perfect conditions. All should stay alert and watch where their children and family swim on hot days.