Thursday, May 14, 2015

Brain Eating Amoeba Turns your body against you

Brain Eating Amoeba (Naegleria fowleri)-Kills you by turning your body against you !!



"Naegleria fowleri -brain eating amoeba-is a free-living, thermophilic excavate form of protist typically found in warm bodies of fresh water, such as ponds, lakes, rivers, and hot springs"



If someone swims in one of these infested pools and gets water up their nose, the amoeba heads for the brain in search of a meal. Once there, it starts to destroy tissue by ingesting cells and releasing proteins that make other cells disintegrate.

The immune system launches a counter-attack by flooding the brain with immune cells, causing inflammation and swelling. It seldom works: of the 132 people known to have been infected in the US since 1962, only three survived.

The problem is that enzymes released by the immune cells can also end up destroying brain tissue. And the swelling triggered by the immune system eventually squashes the brainstem, fatally shutting off communication between the body and the brain.

What Is a Brain-Eating Amoeba?


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.

There are several species of Naegleria but only the fowleri species causes human disease. There are several fowleri subtypes. All are believed equally dangerous.

N. fowleri is microscopic: 8 micrometers to 15 micrometers in size, depending on its life stage and environment. By comparison, a hair is 40 to 50 micrometers wide.

Like other amoebas, Naegleria reproduces by cell division. When conditions aren't right, the amoebas become inactive cysts. When conditions are favorable, the cysts turn into trophozoites -- the feeding form of the amoeba.


Where Are Brain-Eating Amoebas Found?


Naegleria loves very warm water. It can survive in water as hot as 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

These amoebas can be found in warm places around the globe. N. fowleri is found in:
  • Warm lakes, ponds, and rock pits
  • Mud puddles
  • Warm, slow-flowing rivers, especially those with low water levels
  • Untreated swimming pools and spas
  • Untreated well water or untreated municipal water
  • Hot springs and other geothermal water sources
  • Thermally polluted water, such as runoff from power plants
  • Aquariums
  • Soil, including indoor dust

Naegleria can't live in salt water. It can't survive in properly treated swimming pools or in properly treated municipal water.

Most cases of N. fowleri disease occur in Southern or Southwestern states. Over half of all infections have been in Florida and Texas.

Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis cases, 1962 to 2012


How Do Amoebas Get in the Brain?


Studies suggest that N. fowleri amoebas are attracted to the chemicals that nerve cells use to communicate with one another. Once in the nose, the amoebas travel through the olfactory nerve (the nerve connected with sense of smell) into the frontal lobe of the brain.

Photo credit :CDC/Alexander J. da Silva

How to protect  from Brain eating Amoeba


Infections most often occur in July, August and September when temperatures are high for prolonged periods. Naegleria fowleri amoeba can be found in the following places:



• Warm fresh water such as lakes and rivers



• Geothermal water such as hot springs and drinking water sources



• Warm water discharge from industrial plants



To lower your risk, hold your nose shut, use nose clips or keep your head above water when playing in bodies of warm fresh water.



IIt makes sense to avoid swimming underwater, diving, water skiing, and jumping in warm, still waters during the late summer. It also makes sense to wear a nose clip when swimming, boating, or playing in or on warm waters.



It's also a good idea to avoid stirring up mud while taking part in such activities.



And if you are cleansing your nostrils, 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).

About the Author

Prejeesh Sreedharan

Author & Editor

I am a Biotechnologist very much interested in #SciTech (Science And Technology). I closely follow the developments in medical science and life science. I am also very enthusiast in the world of electronics, information technology and robotics. I always looks for ways to make complicated things simpler. And I always believes simplest thing is the most complicated ones.

2 comments:

  1. It is better to be prepared. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes that is really true, it always better to avoid contact with unfamiliar water bodies especially in the late summer time.

      Delete

 
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