NAEGLERIA FOWLERI AND PAINFUL DEATH
The human beings are very fragile and vulnerable when it comes to their health issues, particularly in the age of constant medical challenges. It seems that advanced world and progressed civilization attracts more threats from the nature as itself. So many new occurring diseases, terrible symptoms and undiscovered microbes. Parasites which are searching for a perfect host, for a final destination of their never-ending journey from one point to another. This is the planned jump from one victim to the next one.
Naegleria fowleri is just an exotic, latin name for a dangerous parasite known as brain-eating amoeba, that can enter human’s brain and cause the fatal inflammation. This type of amoeba has been discovered in 1965 as the only one which can lead to the death of infected humans. However, the all subtypes of Naegleria are equally dangerous. It was identified first in Australia and then in America,but what is really important is a fact that this parasite enjoys the warm water, even up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit(46 degrees Celsius). The awareness of the people as potential target of this parasite is increased after series of deaths in the U.S. lately, in Southern or Southwestern states, with the accent on Texas and Florida.
The parasite can not be found everywhere but it could be detected in some warm lakes, ponds or rock pits. Sometimes, it is even found in mud puddles or slow-flowing rivers or untreated swimming pools and spas. Hot springs and geothermal waters are also endangered by possible presence of Naegleria fowleri, as well as aquariums or thermally polluted waters. Very encouraging is the information that this aggressive amoeba doesn’t like salt water and sanitary treated swimming pools, spas or municipal water.
The tiny monster is 8 micrometers to 15 micrometers in size but it also depends on its phase of development. The destructive nature is total and based on the CDC evidences, all cases contracted with this parasite in the period between 1962 and 2015, in 98% have been ended with death.This amoeba gets into the human brain through the nose, and that happens when people go underwater or try to dive:”‘The amoeba penetrates the brain and ‘eats’ the brain via a feeding cup’,said Dr. Karen Roos, a neurologist and infectious-disease specialist with Indiana University Health. The feeding cup is like a mouth. It is used to ingest blood cells and tissue from the host,according to Stanford.” The Mayo Clinic states that once when amoeba starts to feed, and gets into the stage of trophozoites, the human brain swells and definitely goes to the stadium of death.
Nevertheless, the brain-eating parasite is not something we can deal very often or something we should be worried about. According to the available statistics, this type of infection , primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) happens very rare. Even in the USA, there were only 37 severe infections in the period of observed time (2005-2015) but it is recommended to people who swim in the ponds or lakes to wear nose clips since that is the most vulnerable zone of the humans.The parasite is always directed to the nose to find and to get in, so to reach the brain without problems. The concern about being infected with amoeba through the swallowing water is not based on the reality.
The advantage of the parasite to make progress in killing of infected population is its hard detection because of the general symptoms:“Symptoms appear two to 15 days after a person has been exposed to the amoeba, and are nonspecific; doctors often have trouble finding the cause of a person’s symptoms.Symptoms usually include nausea and a general ill feeling, and progressive impairment of thinking and activities, which eventually lead to coma.” Since the parasite is attacking the brain and cerebral zone, the other signs also follows: A change in sense of smell or taste, sensitivity to light, loss of balance, vomiting, confusion, sleepiness, fever and hallucinations. The set of symptoms is always different, based on the individual body and immune system approach and conditions.
If the parasite is somehow discovered on time, there are very small chances for a patient to be recovered. I guess that those 2 % who survive are those lucky one, diagnosed by real experts for brain-eating amoeba. That was the case with one 12-year-old girl in Arkansas, back in 2013. How it could be treated and cured?Actually it is all about the medical support and expansive treatment with antifungal drug amphotericin B or Impavido.
Amoebas usually feed themselves on bacteria but in their absence, they are not refusing human brains to feed on them, especially when the channel to the brain is free for parasite to crawl in. Animal Planet has investigated and concluded that about 70% of lakes in the USA could be a possible home for this parasite but the diseases aren’t so massive. The amoebas are not lurking on every step we make in some of the lakes or ponds but it is not bad to be cautious and informed. The prevention is always better than the treatment itself.
This single-celled living organism is thermophillic and needs hot water for successful evolution. N. fowleri can exist as a cyst, when the environmental conditions are not favorable. I would say this is a similar to viruses and their sleep as crystals. Then, the second form is a trophozoite (ameboid), while the third one is biflagellate. For the humans, the most dangerous form is so called trophozoite because then it is an opened highway for amoeba to attach to the olfactory epithelium and to get to the brain via cribriform plate. The idea of parasite that preying on us in the lakes sounds very horrific but the real picture is not so pessimistic. The infections and the fatal ends are not so presented as it is the high risk of being infected in the potential zone of amoeba activities. There are measures and standards of behaviour in the possible parasite habitats, so the people could avoid circumstances to be affected by PAM.
We live in the cohabitation with the nature or at least we should live in mutual harmony. Once we break the peace and betray the trust of the Earth, and we do that on daily level unfortunately, the fatality of our death will be unstoppable. All parasites of the world are nothing in comparison with the human beings and their appetite for demolition of everything, everyone, everywhere.Regardless of how, Naegleria fowleri shows us that strength does not depend on the size.