Naegleria Infection

What is Naegleria Infection?

Naegleria Infection is usually fatal and is very rare. It is a brain infection that is caused by a microorganism called Naegleria fowleri amoeba (also called ‘brain-eating amoeba’), which can be found in hot springs and freshwater rivers and likes.

People who get the naegleria infection usually die within a period that goes from  a week to twelve days. Although millions of people are exposed to the amoeba that causes the infection, few get sick from it.

In the United States, the amoeba is more commonly present in freshwater basins in the southern states and spreads during warm periods. It can also be found in poorly maintained pools, water heaters and usually enters the body through the nose. Drinking contaminated water (in lakes or swimming pools) rarely leads to an infection, although it might occur. The infection cannot be passed from one person to another.

What are the Symptoms of Naegleria Infection?

Amebic meningoencephalitis is caused by the naegleria infection and this results in destruction of brain tissue and brain inflammation. Within 2-15 days of being exposed to the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, one will have several symptoms.

These symptoms can include severe headaches that come on suddenly and fever. They may have a sudden change in taste smell. Stiff neck, vomiting or nausea, loss of balance, confusion, seizures, sleepiness, and hallucinations are other symptoms that might be experienced. The symptoms often progress quickly.

How is Naegleria Infection Treated?

Early treatment and diagnosis are essential if one contracts naegleria infection. With quick diagnosis and treatment, death is not likely. The main treatment that is used is an antifungal drug called amphotericin B. It is injected into the space around the spinal cord or directly into the veins to kill the amoebas.

Another drug has become available only through the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and it is called miltefosine (Impavido). It is an experimental drug that, when combined with other medications and used aggressively, is showing potential for improved survival rates.

Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 09, 2017
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