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Brain-Eating Amoeba Claims Kansas Resident as Its Fourth Victim
The brain-eating amoeba since the early 1960s has become an unwelcome danger for the swimmers during the hot summer months.
The brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, that infects people with the almost always fatal medical condition, amoebic meningoencephalitis, has claimed its fourth victim of the summer. The latest victim; whose name, sex, and age has not released, was a Kansas resident who expired five days after entering the hospital on August 19. The previous three victims were residents of Virginia, Florida, and Louisiana.
At least two of the four Naegleria fowleri victims had recently been swimming in a lake, one attended a fishing camp, and another was infected after using a neti pot to irrigate his sinuses for allergies.
The Kansas victim had recently been swimming in Winfield Lake, 16-year-old Courtney Nash in a local Florida lake, and 9-year-old Christian Alexander Strickland had recently attended a fishing camp in Virginia. It was determined the pipes in the home of the unnamed Louisiana man contained the brain-eating amoeba, and was infected when he used the tap water to rinse his sinuses.
The brain-eating amoeba thrives in the warm water of ponds, lakes, hot springs, and rivers, where it feeds on bacteria and algae in the sediment that settles at the bottom. When swimmers disturb the sediment exposure to the amoeba increases.
If water containing the amoeba goes up the nose, it then eats its way up from the olfactory nerve to the cranium, where it burrows through the skull to feed off brain and spinal cord tissue. The diagnosis of this infection is amoebic meningoencephalitis, and prognosis for recovery is very poor, with death occurring within 1 to 12 after initial symptoms
The initial symptoms of amoebic meningoencephalitis include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, hallucinations, and seizures. Fortunately, there are few annual reports of death from Naegleria fowleri, and precautions can be taken to minimize the risks of becoming a victim.
Do's and Don'ts to avoid becoming a Naegleria fowleri casualty
Do wear a nose clip if swimming in a lake or river.
Don't swim in ponds or in warm water when the levels are low.
Don't swim in a dirty swimming pool or hot tub.
Don't swim in a poorly chlorinated swimming pool.
Don't swim in water where there are warm water releases from power plants or factories.
If you use a neti pot to irrigate sinuses, do use distilled or sterilized water, or water boiled before use to prepare rinse solution. And, do be sure to clean and open air dry device after each use.
Do make sure water heaters maintain hot water temperatures of at least 116 degrees Fahrenheit or 47 degrees Celsius.