Naegleria is one of the types of amoebae, and it is a unicellular organism, generally found in warm freshwaters such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs, along with the soil. There’s only one guy in Naegleria who infects people, and that’s Naegleria fowleri.
How is naegleria transmitted?
Infection is not transmitted by contaminated drinking water, but individuals may be infected only when dirty water rises in their noses. The Naegleria fowleri ameba then makes its way into the brain, where it destroys the brain tissue. Naegleria infection can also occur in sporadic cases when contaminated water from other sources (like non-chlorinated pool water or contaminated tap water) enters the nose. For example, when people dip their heads or wash their noses during religious practices, people water their sinuses with contaminated tap water. However, the spread of Naegleria fowleri via water vapor or aerosol droplets (e.g., shower mist or steam from a humidifier) has not been demonstrated.
Naegleria fowleri is worldwide. For example, in the US, most infections were caused by Naegleria fowleri from fresh water in the southern states. Amoeba may also be found within:
– Discharge of hot water from industrial plants.
– Geothermal (naturally warm) drinking water sources
– Poorly maintained pools with low chlorine content and chlorine-free.
– Water heaters.
– Naegleria fowleri grows better at temperatures greater than 115°F (46°C)
– Naegleria fowleri is not present in salty water, as is the ocean.
Although Naegleria fowleri infections are rare, they happen mainly during July, August, and September. Condition is more likely to occur in South American states but may occur in other northern states. It means that recreational water users must be aware that there will always be a low risk of infection when they enter those waters. The condition usually occurs when the weather is warm for extended periods when the water temperature increases and water levels decrease.
Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM)
Naegleria fowleri causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). It’s a severe and rare brain infection that destroys brain tissue, causes inflammation and lining of the brain, and is generally fatal.PAM began to be described in South Australia in the 1960s. It has since been identified in numerous countries all over the world. Initially, PAM symptoms may be similar to bacterial meningitis.
Symptoms of PAM
The initial symptoms of PAM begin about five days (ranging from 1 to 9 days) after infection. Early symptoms may include
● Nausea or vomiting.
Later symptoms can include
● Stiff neck.
● Lack of interest in people and their environment.
● Loss of balance.
● Seizures and hallucinations.
After the onset of symptoms, the disease develops rapidly and usually causes death within five days (1-12 days).
Naegleria fowleri is unable to survive in clean, cold, and chlorinated water. To avoid infection:
– Avoid jumping or diving into warm freshwater bodies or spa pools.
– Keep your head above water at spas, thermal pools, and hot freshwater bodies.
– Daily empty and clean small folding paddling pools and ensure pools and spas are adequately chlorinated and maintained.
– Rinse standing water from pipes before allowing children to play with pipes or nozzles.
– Should not use potentially contaminated water for nasal irrigation or nasal washing, including Neti (an ayurvedic nasal cleaning practice).