The condition is measured to be one of the predominant and severe infections which is generally caused by the bacteria Naegleria Fowleri. The infection is acquired by people when they come in contact with infected water and is closely aspirated in to the nose. People with interest of recreational swimming, diving or water skiing are at the increased risk of getting affected by this amoeba.
Once entered in the human body, the organism travels in to the brain causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The organism is also called as brain-eating amoeba, and the infection brain-eating amoeba infection. It is a very rare condition with very few of them reported each year in the United States. People with PAM have a rapidly progressive illness accompanied with fever, headache, stiff neck, coma and death.
The presence of infection is generally diagnosed by examining spinal fluid under a microscopic test. Some newer tests concerning the PCR technology have been developed but are not widely available. It is a very severe infection in many cases causing more than 90% of people getting with the infection of PAM are fatal despite the treatment.
The amoeba lives in fresh water and soil, it is a different kind of organism which is strong enough to create an infection and cause a human disease. The organism is found on warmer water and is found in both tropical and temperate climates. Commonly identified in freshwater, even a single organism is capable enough of developing the risks of infection in the human body and creating huge problems and complications.
Although there are many species of Naegleria, only Naegleria Fowlericauses human infection. There are other free-living amoebas that cause human disease, including Acanthamoeba.
Causes of Naegleria Fowleri infection
It is water borne disease and generally the exposure occurs when people get in contact with warm fresh water usually through diving, swimming and water skiing. Any of the other recreational activity carried out in water increases the chance to cause this Naegleria Fowleri infection. More severities are observed when the infection is forced through nose. The amoeba migrates through the olfactory nerves and enters the brain.
The cases of these infections in rarely underchlorinated swimming pools are more prone and implicated to the transmission of this organism in the human body. The organism Naegleria Fowleri is commonly present in untreated well water, a small and real chance of transmission of the infection in children during bathing or while carrying out other water borne activities is increased.
The amoeba has also caused disease in adults injecting water in the nose as part of rituals in different religious practices.
Risk factors of Naegleria Fowleri infection
There are a number of water associated devices which increase the risk of this infection. These might also include exposure to warm fresh water, these includes freshwater lakes, rivers etc. Other fresh water sources including hot springs, poorly chlorinated pools, untreated wells or lakes, water heaters, neti pots and warm water discharge from power plants are some of the areas with increased risk of developing the infection in the human body.
More than 75% of cases were observed in children or adolescents and the similar number of average count in men. The olfactory nerve to contaminated water is the portal of entry to the brain. Swimming pools are the houses of this Naegleria Fowleri amoeba. Swimmers are at the increased risk in developing this brain infection while dunking, diving and crashing in water.
Signs and symptoms of Naegleria Fowleri infection
The amoeba makes its way from nose to the brain through olfactory nerve and through membrane to enter the brain. Once entered in the brain it causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis abbreviated as PAM.
The stage one symptoms include; severe frontal headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. Whereas the stage two ones include, stiff neck, coma, seizures, altered mental status, hallucination etc. These are the common signs and symptoms which makes it easier to diagnose the condition and intensity of the infection.
How is Naegleria Fowleri infection diagnosed?
The condition is specifically suspected in children with exposure to freshwater and in people who are seen with the symptoms of meningitis. Different types of medical tests are carried out to make an accurate diagnosis of the infection. It is done by carrying out an acid test and antigen test.
Treatment for Naegleria Fowleri infection
It is a rare health condition and can be treated with the help of accurate and complete medical check-up. The treatment with the choice of amphotericin B, it is an intravenous drug usually used to treat fungal infections and can be instilled in the brain. Other category of drugs including rifampin, voriconazole , azithromycin etc are some of the commonly known treatments used to cure this brain affecting amoeba infection.
Can it be prevented?
The condition can be easily prevented by maintaining complete hygiene and cleanliness of water. Cleaning of swimming pools, untreated wells and fresh water reservoirs which comes in contact with human more frequently should follow a normal hygiene pattern. This helps prevent the condition from developing in the human body.
Chlorination of the water on timely basis and eliminating the presence of organism is the best method to maintain complete hygiene and reduce the chances of developing the Naegleria Fowleri infection.
Prognosis of Naegleria Fowleri infection
The prognosis for infected patients is very low; in more than 99% of cases the infection is found fatal despite of the early diagnosis and proper treatment. The rare survival has residual neurological problems like seizure disorders.