Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention


If you’ve paid attention to biology classes in school, you know there are single-celled organisms called amoebas. But do you also know of a species of amoeba known as the brain-eating amoeba? Very little is known about it. First identified in Australia in 1965, it is scientifically called Naegleria fowleri.

This blog is a comprehensive guide to its effects on the human body, symptoms and treatment options.

What is a brain-eating amoeba?

A brain-eating amoeba is a type of amoeba that usually hides in warm freshwater bodies or dirty untreated water bodies. When it enters the human body, it causes fatal infection and inflammation in the brain, eventually “devouring” brain tissue. The medical term for this condition is primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). You can only get this condition if you get into your nose with contaminated water that carries brain-eating amoebas. There are different species of Naegleria, but only the Faurelli species causes her PAM.

Depending on life stage and habitat, N. fowleri ranges in size from 8 to 15 micrometers. Naegleria, like other amoebas, reproduces by cell division. When conditions are unfavorable, amoebas develop into dormant cysts. If the conditions are right, the cysts develop into the trophozoite, the feeding form of the amoeba.

Where can you find a brain-eating amoeba?

Untreated warm water is the perfect environment for brain-eating amoebas. Ideal habitat for Naegleria. It will not die even in hot water of 115 degrees. Below are some of the locations where they were found.

  • warm ponds, lakes and rock formations
  • mud hole
  • A river with warm currents, especially a low-water river
  • Spas and pools with untreated water
  • Untreated tap or well water
  • Various geothermal water sources including hot springs
  • Thermally contaminated water such as tank runoff from power plants
  • Water playground for children
  • aquatic park

Naegleria cannot survive in properly treated tap water, pools, or salt water.

What are the first symptoms of PAM?

PAM has no specific symptoms. At first, it may resemble viral meningitis.Symptoms include

People may also experience hallucinations, drooping eyelids, blurred vision, and loss of taste.

How do brain-eating amoebas infect humans?

According to experts, the fowleri fungus usually feeds on bacteria. But once invading a person, the amoeba eats the brain. Because the nose serves as a pathway for amoebas to enter the body, infections are most often caused by activities that force water up the nose, such as diving, water skiing, and other water sports. N. fowleri infection does not spread from person to person.

How often do individuals become infected with brain-eating amoebas?

The N. fowleri amoeba is relatively abundant but rarely causes brain damage. Studies have proven that antibodies are present in many people, suggesting that those infected with amoeba are able to fight it off thanks to their immune system.

Researchers are still unsure whether N. fowleri always causes PAM or only occasionally. However, their study suggests that amoeba exposure is significantly more prevalent than his incidence of PAM.

How is a brain-eating amoeba infection diagnosed?

Identifying a brain-eating amoeba infection can be difficult. If a doctor suspects PAM in her, they will do a laboratory test to see if she has a sample of amoeba in her body. cerebrospinal fluidbiopsy, or tissue sample.

Is there a cure for the brain-eating amoeba infection?

Amphotericin B is ideal for treating primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) or infections caused by brain-eating amoebas. Note that several survivors in North America were treated by their physicians with several drug combinations, including amphotericin B, rifampin, fluconazole, and miltefosine.

But doctors got the best results from early diagnosis and treatment with recommended drugs, as they found in two children who made a full recovery. This treatment also involves cooling the body to below normal body temperature to treat swelling in the brain.

Can water be tested for the presence of brain-eating amoebas?

yes. To check for N. fowleri, experts collect water samples from lakes and pools, concentrate them, and culture them in the laboratory. Samples can undergo specific laboratory tests to detect amoebas.

Are some groups more prone to PAM than others?

Children under the age of 13 and adult men are reported to be more affected by the condition. People in these groups may participate more in amoeba-exposed activities.

How to prevent infection from the brain-eating amoeba?

You can prevent infection from brain-eating amoebas by doing the following:

  1. avoid swimming, wading, or engaging in water sports in warm, fresh water, especially still water, without the use of nasal plugs. If you know or suspect the presence of Naegleria fowleri, do not enter the water.
  2. avoid using tap water A neti pot or other device for cleaning the nasal passages. We recommend using only distilled or sterile water. However, if you can’t find sterile or distilled water, boil tap water for 1 minute and let it cool before using. If you live above 6,500 feet above sea level, boil the water for 3 minutes. Allow to cool before use.
  3. To remove bacteria from water, use filters labeled “NSF 53”, “NSF 58”, or “absolute pore size less than 1 micron”.
  4. If you want to disinfect your water with chlorine bleach or tablets to clean your nasal passages, choose a product made for your needs. Drinking chlorine bleach or tablets is not the same as rinsing your nose.
  5. fever or headache Seek immediate medical attention after immersion in warm fresh water.


Learning about the disorders posed by dangerous brain-eating amoebas is essential. However, early diagnosis may help defeat the medical condition. If you believe you have been exposed to untreated hot water, seek emergency medical attention to ensure you are safe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How soon do symptoms of PAM appear?

It may take 2 to 15 days for symptoms to appear after N. fowleri amoeba is in the nose. In most cases, patients die 3 to 7 days after onset.

Is there a rapid test for brain-eating amoeba infection?

There is no rapid test for diagnosing brain-eating amoeba infections. However, scientists are trying to create a quick test for diagnosis. Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

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