Naegleria fowleri is a brain eating and heat loving amoeba. It is a species belonging to the genus Naegleria of the phylum percolozoa family. The naegleriasis infection is known in medical terms as amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). This Micro-organism is usually found in organisms of fresh water, for example, lakes, ponds, rivers and hot springs. It is as well located in the soil next to warm water discharges like swimming pools, industrial plants and in unchlorinated pools.
Scientists have discovered that as the water temperature rises, the number of amoeba increases. Discovered in the 1960’s in Australia by scientists, it is later understood to have evolved in the United States.
The brain-eating amoeba has a three-stage cycle as briefly described below.
1. The cyst stage or amoeboid form.
The amoeboid comes out in rounded pseudopodia (lobo podia) form. It is a spherical nucleus attached with a large endosome, and large pulsating vacuoles. It is at this point that feeding, growing and replication takes place. It hides in vegetation, mud and water.
This cyst is circular in nature and around 7 to 15 mm in diameter. They are very smooth and bare a single layered wall having a singular nucleus. These are biologically engineered to be able to resist environmental factors, in order to increase its chances of survival until more conducive conditions arise. Factors that promote cyst formation include a lack of food, desiccation, overcrowding, accumulation of waste products and very cold temperatures. When these conditions improve though, the amoeba escapes through the ostiole viewed in the middle of the cyst.
2. The Trophozoite stage
This is simply the dividing or multiplication, feeding and infective part or stage in human beings. Here it attaches to the olfactory epithelium, in which it follows the olfactory cell axon in the cribriform plate commonly known as the nasal cavity directly into the brain. At a temperature of 25 degrees centigrade it transforms and at 42 degrees centigrade, it proliferates by binary fission then head into water.
3. The Flagellate stage
This flagellate is usually pear-shaped and biflagellate which means that it has got 2 flagella. At this point, the organisms are microscopic and can be inhaled inside the nasal cavity when diving and swimming. This type of flagellate is not existent in human tissue, however, it can exist in fluids such as cerebrospinal. This process of transformation can occur within a couple of hours.It is at this point that the cycle concludes and starts all over again.
HOW IT CAN AFFECT HUMANS AND ANIMALS
The amoeba slowly eats away at the brain and if not detected and treated on time, it will eventually lead to insanity for both humans and animals.
Many people affected by this killer parasite have been known to get seizures and rapid convulsions. A terrible site indeed.
Intense headaches that go as far as creating difficulty seeing.
Additionally, the numbness has been known to develop in the fingertips of patients. In more severe cases, people have become paralyzed making them unable to walk and talk because of a locked jaw.
SYMPTOMS SOMEONE MIGHT HAVE OF THE BRAIN-EATING AMOEBA
Symptoms are not necessarily specific to this disease as many others have similar characteristics. At fast many may seem like viral meningitis. Click Here to find out more about meningitis. The following are the signs.
- A headache.
Here one gets a mild or sharp pain in the head which can be above the eyes or ears, at the back of the head or upper back neck.
- Stiff neck.
This is a medical condition in which an individual experiences discomfort usually when trying to turn or flex the neck.
The body experiences an abnormally high body temperature that normally comes with shivering, head pains and delirium.
Here one ejects part or every content of the stomach through the mouth. This normally happens in series.
TREATMENTS FOR THE BRAIN-EATING AMOEBA
There is no clear treatment for this problem. It has been discovered that a number of drugs kill the floweri amoeba in the test tube. However even when treated, not that many patients survive.
Some doctors have attempted to treat patients by prescribing them with tons of antibiotics and antifungals, then lowering the body temperature by inducing comas of patients.
All the above have been tried and tested, some successful and others not.
Heart touching story of Courtney Nash
who passed away after contracting Naegleria fowleri
If you wish to find out more about deadly parasitic organisms, their life cycle, symptoms of a parasitic infection and possible treatment or wish to improve your health and start living a healthy life; visit