Thursday, May 14, 2015

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).

Brain Eating Amoeba Turns your body against you

Artificial Light Associated with Obesity, Study Says

Carbs, genetics, “bad” fats — there are many theories about the causes of obesity and associated illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
But new research in today’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes obesity is not just about food.
Sander Kooijman and colleagues at the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands say that weight gain may be increasingly common in today’s fast-paced global economy because prolonged artificial light exposure actually inhibits the fat-burning processes that normally occur during darkness.
“The modern 24-hour economy necessitates work at night and shifts social activities to the dark hours,” study co-author Patrick C. N. Rensen explained. “Our observations may implicate, assuming the data could be extrapolated to humans, that the current obesity epidemic is at least partly due to increased light pollution.”
Several years of research correlates weight gain with artificial light exposure, which is defined as any light that isn’t from the sun, including overhead lighting, computer screens, and streetlights. A 2013 article in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology journal found that mice fed a low-fat diet but exposed to artificial light for prolonged periods of time actually gained more weight than mice fed a diet high in fat.

Why Would Light Make Us Fat?

Kooijman’s team wanted to know more about what exactly caused the correlation, so they looked at the exact mechanism behind that weight gain — specifically a type of fat known as brown adipose tissue (BAT). This tissue plays a central role in energy expenditure by changing energy from food into heat. In short, it burns calories.
Researchers exposed mice to artificial light for 12, 16, or 24 hours per day for five weeks. Mice exposed to artificial light for 24 hours, compared with 12 hours, had significantly higher fat composition despite consuming the same diet.
Further investigation revealed that BAT activity was decreased by light exposure. As mice were exposed to longer periods of light, conversion of fatty acids and glucose into heat was reduced. The longer the light shined, the fewer calories the mice burned.
In a culture where sunny days evoke swimsuits and beach bodies, it’s hard to understand why light exposure would lend itself to the deposition of fat. But the body’s circadian rhythms are uniquely attuned to variations in light and dark. Disruption of these basic physiological processes can have significant metabolic repercussions.
Researchers think that exposure to artificial light is actually tricking an evolutionary adaptation that encouraged our ancestors to store fat in the summer months to prepare for the colder, darker winter months.
“The so-called ‘day length’ prepares the body for cold adaptation due to seasonal variation,” said Rensen.
Shortened days, he explains, usually increase BAT activation to create heat in the body to prepare for cold, whereas longer days don’t require the creation of heat — so the body stores the excess energy, or fat, until it is needed.
“Lowering BAT activity in warm seasons may indeed result in beneficial storage of fat,” Rensen said.
But artificial light confuses the body. A night shift worker in a hospital, for example, might spend 12 hours under fluorescent lights and then several daylight hours running errands. If this happens multiple times a week, the body might adapt to the prolonged light exposure by reducing its normal fat-burning rate.

I Work Nights. Can I Get a Pill for That?

While research on artificial light exposure isn’t limited to mice, medications and therapies aimed at correcting faulty fat storage are still a long way off.
Rensen, Kooijman, and other researchers are looking at ways to increase BAT activity in mice and humans by developing drugs that act on the body’s “central biological clock,” an area of the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nuclei.
Until those magic pills allow us to travel across time zones jet-lag free or put in 24-hour workdays, the best advice science can offer is to try to sleep when it’s dark outside — or at least simulate darkness if you have a job that requires nighttime work.
“Restricting work and activities to daytime and sleeping in a dark bedroom may help prevent weight gain,” Rensen said.
For those who can’t limit their work to daylight hours and struggle with getting adequate sleep, a web search of “sleep hygiene” yields countless resources from sleep disorder centers across the United States.
UCLA’s Sleep Center has specific resources on sleep hygiene for shift workers. Sleep researchers have correlated poor sleep with increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and obesity.
One of the key recommendations of sleep experts? Limit artificial light exposure.

Obesity linked to exposure to Artificial light

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