A day in the life

Zombie Amoeba

See that little fellow up there? Isnt he adorable. That  is Naegleria fowleri, but his friends call him Naegleria fowleri. His favorite thing to eat in the whole world is Brains. Your brains preferably but any human will do. That is why I call the little guy, the Zombie Amoeba, because it seeks out and wants to eat your brains.

He as killed 130 people , that the CDC knows of . He has infected 133 since 1962, 3 people lived to tell the tale. Only 36 have been reported in the USA all, but two were fatal The latest was on July 2 in Bishop, California.   Gal caught his eye  while swimming in a warm private pond. This guy  does like to live the good life  water and he can usually be found hanging out in warm or hot freshwater (lakes, rivers, and hot springs). Not to fond of the cold water so he stays were its warm. A he hangs out, he looks for a nose.  Now don’t get all feeling special While the amoeba digs the human nose the most, he is sometimes attracted to tapirs and cattle as well.

So once you two have hooked up the next thing he does travel up to the brain and settles down

Lifecycle of Naegleria fowleri
Lifecycle of Naegleria fowleri

for a good meal.  the problem is most folks don’t realize that they even have a problem. It can be a  a day   before you know you have been chosen. You usually start with a headache, then the ever popular nausea  and vomiting. (sounds like the flu eh?) Later on you start to get a stiff neck, a little confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings. Lose of balance and seizures are always fun but if you are looking for the ultimate, then one can have hallucinations as well. Luckily, the symptoms don’t last too long , 1 to 12 days , then, you die.  Beats breaking up and having nasty fights, I guess.

Ok I get it, you really don’t want to meet such a thing. It is possible that you are married or enjoy your brain the way it is. So what to do ? Well, avoiding warm water in July , August and September when infections are most likely to occur. What? Its Summer, its hot you whine? well you can always wear a nose clip. Especially if you are a young boy, because that is who meets Naegleria Fowleri most often. Don’t put your head under water,  Don’t play in  warm water discharged from industrial plants.  Like that is always a good idea.  Don’t go in the water during high water temperatures and low water levels. And for Goodness sake’s, quit digging in and stirring  up the sediment.

So how to get rid of this little brain muncher.  Chlorine will kill it if  you use the right dose and for the right amount of time.  Water filters will work but they need to filter down to a pore size of 1 Micron. Boil water for a least 1 minute. Use caution when using Neti Pot or other  sinus rinses, either use a method above or buy distilled water. Make sure to rinse your device and let air dry. Our guy doesn’t like the air too much.

Now before you freak out, our little guy is rather hard to find. The chances of you getting to meet him are quite slim.  There have been 36 reported infections in the U.S. in the 10 years from 2005 to 2015, despite millions of  water exposures each year. By comparison, in the ten years from 2001 to 2010, there were more than 34,000 drowning deaths in the U.S. So in other words, you will probably drown before you met our Amoeba. If you do, then, well ,  it sure was nice to know you.