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Mansfield Magazine

Brain-eating Amoebas: The Top 5 Things You Need To Know

May 12, 2016 02:52PM ● By Melanie Heisinger
The Kyle Cares Foundation has a mission to bring more awareness to the brain-eating amoeba, otherwise known as Naegleria Fowleri, but what exactly is this parasite and how can we avoid it?

What is an Amoeba Virus? 

As stated on WebMD: "Amoebas are single-celled organisms. The so-called brain-eating amoeba is a species discovered in 1965. It's formal name is Naegleria Fowleri. Although first identified in Australia, this amoeba is believed to have evolved in the U.S."

The amoeba Naegleria Fowleri enters through the nasal passages, travels to the brain and causes the fatal brain infection Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis.

Though cases of this are rare, it's important to stay educated on risks. Let's take a closer look at this life-threatening parasite and ways that we can avoid it.

The Top 5 Things You Need To Know:

1. It lives naturally in freshwater.

This is including lakes, rivers, ponds, even ditch water and hot springs, under-chlorinated splash pads, and has been found in public water systems after deaths occurred from nasal rinsing with neti-pots without distilled or previously boiled water.

So, do your best to make sure to wear a nose clip when swimming, boating, or playing in or on warm waters. Avoid digging in, or stirring up, the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.

2. It thrives, multiplies and feeds on bacteria and is a life-threatening risk when the water temperature is warm, near 80 degrees and warmer. 

The warmer the water, the more the amoeba grows. Avoid fully submerging in any warm, fresh water, especially without a nose plug. Later in the summer are the warmest the waters tend to get, so fully avoiding the lake at that time is the only 100% guarantee.

3. It's important to know how to properly cleanse the nostrils after swimming.

If you plan on cleansing your nostrils as opposed to using nasal plugs, be sure to fill your neti pot or squeeze bottle with distilled or sterile water -- not tap water. You can also use water that has been boiled for one minute (three minutes at high elevations) and then cooled. And you can filter the water using filters with pores no larger than 1 micron (1 micrometer). 

Do not rely on salt solution as it does not kill the amoeba quick enough to be efficient.

4. The Amoeba does not survive in properly chlorinated pools or salt water.

Or in properly treated municipal water. So, head to a friend's pool and skip the lake, if you can. Most cases of N. Fowleri disease occur in Southern or Southwestern states. Over half of all infections have been in Florida and Texas.

5. Naegleria Fowleri is not harmful if swallowed.

You cannot get infected from drinking water contaminated with Naegleria. You can only be infected when contaminated water goes up into your nose.

Content courtesy, and the KyleCares websites. 

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