The dog days of summer brought us not only joy and comfort in our holidays and trips. After the threat represented by the Zika virus, a new one has just emerged. The brain-eating amoeba is now the enemy.
A case of human contraction of the amoeba has been reported in South Carolina. The person, whose identity remains hidden, was swimming in the Edisto River (Charleston County). Medicine was delivered to Charleston from Orlando, Florida, and now the swimmer is out of danger.
An amoeba is a unicellular organism. The case reported in South Carolina has to do with Naegleria fowleri, a species which, if it’s inhales through the nose, can reach the brain and cause severe damages. This is why it got the name of brain-eating amoeba. Nevertheless, swallowing the small organism does no harm to your health.
The natural habitat of Naegleria fowleri is fresh, warm water, such as lakes, ponds, warm springs, even the mud abounding in water. This is how it came to be in contact with the swimmer in the lake in the first place. There are more chances to encounter this amoeba in summer since it is fond of heat and warmth.
The swimmer had contact with the brain-eating amoeba on the 24th of July and began manifesting symptoms only a week later. Doctors say this is the normal course of events, and that the general signs of the infection are nausea, fever, headache (only some of them, or all of them altogether). Doctors take very good care of the patient and inform citizens not to worry.
Naegleria fowleri eats mostly bacteria, and there are rare cases in which they reach humans. Even so, specialists claim, in most of the situation, the amoeba dies in the human body, before getting to damage the brain.
Over the past ten years, there have been less than 40 cases of the brain-eating amoeba infecting people (which is a small percentage). Despite the statistics, the reality is that in 95% of the cases, it resulted in people’s death, children among them.
Doctors stated there is no need to get alarmed over the brain-eating amoeba and provide us with some pieces of advice on how to deal with the situation:
“You should avoid swimming or jumping into bodies of fresh water when the water is warm, and the water levels are low. Also, you should either hold your nose or use a nose plug. You cannot be infected by merely drinking water containing the amoeba” (Linda Bell, epidemiologist).
Image source: Wikipedia