Deadly Brain-Eating Amoeba in Florida Tap Water

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PostThu Aug 15, 2013 6:20 am » by Malogg

Deadly Brain-Eating Amoeba in Florida Tap Water


Researchers find deadly
Naegleria fowleri in tap water
A "brain-eating" amoeba that can cause illness and death was detected in tap water in two Louisiana homes, CDC researchers have reported.
A "brain-eating" amoeba that can cause illness… (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles…)
8:30 a.m. EST, August 23, 2012|By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
If you’re worried about picking up an infectious disease this summer, you may be fretting about catching West Nile disease from a mosquito, H3N2v influenza from a pig, or salmonella from a cantaloupe.
But for those who like to dabble in pure medical horror, there’s little scarier to ponder than a brain-eating amoeba lurking in your tap water.

That’s exactly what CDC investigators found when they swabbed the plumbing in the houses of two people who died of PAM, primary amoebic meningoencephalitis in 2011. The illness, which is extremely rare, strikes when the amoeba Naegleria fowleri travels into the brain through the nose and olfactory nerve, causing fever, vomiting, seizures and coma. It usually kills its victims within a week.
Most of the people who fall ill with amoeba-borne brain infection get it after swimming in warm lakes or rivers in Southern states. But last year, two Louisianans apparently fell ill and died after irrigating their sinuses with neti pots — small pitchers used to pour warm saltwater through the nasal passages.

In the wake of the two deaths, the CDC investigators reported
Thursday in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, teams visited the patients’ homes and tested water samples to see if N. fowleri was there. In both cases, the municipal water supply sources, which had been chlorine-treated, were free of the amoeba. But in one patient’s home, investigators found the microbe in a tankless water heater. In the other home, they found it in tub and sink faucets, and on a shower nozzle.

The researchers didn’t find N. fowleri on either patient’s neti pot—but that didn’t mean the amoeba couldn’t have lurked there long enough to infect its victims. To test that possibility, the team conducted an experiment to see if the salt typically added to water used to irrigate the sinuses would kill N. fowleri on contact.

It didn’t — after four hours, the number of amoebae in the solution “did not appreciably decrease or degrade,” the team wrote, concluding that “adding salt mixtures to tap water to prepare and rapidly use nasal irrigation solutions does not seem to inactivate N. fowleri fast enough.”

The team provided tips to avoid infection in the paper. For people using neti pots or other means to rinse their nasal passages, they advised using “sterile, distilled, filtered (using a filter with an absolute pore size of one nanometer or smaller) or boiled water to make the irrigation solution.” They urged rinsing the neti pot with the same sterile, distilled, boiled or filtered water.
For swimmers in warm freshwater, they advised holding the nose shut or using nose clips to keep water from going up the nose and avoiding stirring up sediment in freshwater bodies. They also instructed swimmers to avoid activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature.
One bright spot: “A person cannot be infected with N.fowleri by drinking contaminated water,” they wrote.

Brain-eating amoeba found in Glades County

Posted: Aug 12, 2013 2:55 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 12, 2013 3:22 PM EDT

Source: Center for Disease Control
Source: Center for Disease Control
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A confirmed case of Naegleria fowleri has been reported in Southwest Florida.
Naegleria fowleri - commonly referred to as the 'brain-eating amoeba' - is a microscopic amoeba, which is a single-celled living organism.
It can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The amoeba is commonly found in warm, fresh water such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals.
Infections can happen when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM (which destroys brain tissue) and is usually fatal.
Infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels. The peak season for this amoeba is July, August and September.
Naegleria fowleri infections are rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28 infections were reported in the U.S. from 2003 to 2012.
The infections occurred from exposure to contaminated recreational water. You cannot be infected with Naegleria fowleri by drinking contaminated water and the amoeba is not found in salt water.
Initial symptoms of PAM usually start within one to seven days after infection. The initial symptoms may include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting.
Other symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations. After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly.
Contributing sources: ... nose-clips ... ng-amoeba/ ... gxPbY1wrFl

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