The health department of Florida confirmed the first-ever case of a brain-eating bug scientifically called naegleria fowleri this Friday. This infection kills its patient in more than 98% of the cases.
Medical experts believe that this bug enters the human body through the nose and reaches the brain. This bug is technically an amoeba, a microscopic animal. It is common in freshwater with a warm temperature.
The health department warns the public about the potential exposure to the amoeba, also famous as the brain-eating bug. It says that people who suspect having it should seek immediate medical care. Unlike other microbes, this infection spreads much fast after the first symptoms appear.
The typical symptoms of this infection are pain, fever, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, vomiting. And in severe cases, stiff neck, high fever, seizures, hallucinations, and losing the body’s balance as well.
Summer is the highest season for this unique specie of amoeba. From July to September, the warm temperature allows its growth and it stays in these temperate waters for a long time. Thus, the chance of getting it while swimming is highest.
As it is mostly found in freshwater, the health department has warned people to swim in lakes, ponds and all major rivers, especially in Southern areas. In the last 58 years, there are 37 total cases of this brain-eating bug with the case reported in 1962.
This bug, Naegleria fowleri, is typically considered a bacterium but it is actually an amoeba which is a free-living microbe. It is invisible and only shows up under a microscope.
Once it is inside the brain, it starts engulfing the brain cells, inducing an infection namely primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). It has a high mortality rate and 141 out of 145 cases in the US ended with a tragic death.
The only way that this amoeba can enter into the human body is through the nose. Swallowing or drinking this freshwater can not transmit this microbe to the brain.
Florida’s Health Department is recommending people to avoid all water-related activities. Although this summer season is the peak time for people to come out and enjoy water-based activities. However, a deadly infection like this needs the implementation of a protective plan.
The health department is asking people to stay out of the water especially the hot springs and water that is polluted with thermal sources. This brain-eating bug spreads in this warm water and can infect anyone who decides to swim in it.
The warnings also include using nose plugs or clips while entering into the water. Even in water-related sports, people should avoid direct contact with water on the face. Although this bug mainly lives in warm water, there is no way to tell that which temperature is most helpful for its transmission.
Also, there is not a general temperature check at lakes, ponds, and rivers, so people can only feel this water is relatively warmer. There is no information on which particular type of water sources are most likely to have it. It is better to avoid water-based activities until further information is released. If someone experiences any unusual symptoms, rush for the emergency treatment as soon as possible.