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Brain Eating Amoeba

Brain Eating Amoeba

Amoebas are single-cell organisms that were first found in Australia and gradually evolved to the United States. There are different types of Amoebas with the most dangerous being the Fowleri species which can range from 8 micrometers to 15 micrometers. This is approximately the size of 2-3 human hairs. They have been known as brain-eating amoebas because while they usually eat bacteria, they can find their way to your brain and eat at parts of it. Brain-eating Amoebas dissolve the brain tissue making it very difficult for someone to survive once they have Amoebas in their brain.

Where do they come from?

Brain-eating Amoebas live in very warm, often hot water. Amoebas can survive in temperatures up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit and are found in various warm places throughout the world. The most common places for Brain-eating Amoebas are ponds, rock pits, lakes, mud puddles, untreated swimming pools and Jacuzzis, warm slow-flowing rivers with low water levels, untreated municipal water, hot springs, thermally polluted water like from power plants, aquariums, and soil. They aren’t able to survive in salt water or treated swimming pools and municipal water. The majority of them have been found in the southwestern United States with more than half of the infections being from Texas and Florida.

How Does Infection Occur?

Amoeba usually eat bacteria and using brains as a food source is accidental. This is done by the Amoeba going through your nose; you can’t get it from ingesting water that is infested with Amoebas. For example, people who are doing water sports in warm, fresh waters, the water can be forced up the nose. Many times, people have dunked their heads in hot springs and gotten Brain-eating Amoebas, but this is unlikely. They usually get to the brain through the nose, traveling on the olfactory nerve to the frontal lobe of the brain.

Symptoms of Brain-Eating Amoeba

Once the Amoeba are in your nose, it can take about 2-15 days for symptoms to appear and people with this infection usually die 3-7 days after the symptoms occur. Only a handful of people have survived infection from brain-eating Amoeba. The first symptoms someone might experience are fever, loss of appetite, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, seizures, altered mental state and coma. They might also experience blurred vision, loss of taste, hallucinations and a dropping eyelid.

Can it be Treated?

There is no known treatment for brain-eating Amoeba and most people who get them, don’t survive. Some drugs have been used in test tubes to kill Amoeba but there is no guarantee the treatment will work on people with Amoeba. Since it can take weeks to figure out someone has an infection from brain-eating Amoeba, the condition is usually worsened before drugs can be administered.
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