With increasing temperatures, the number of Texans thronging swimming pools, lakes and rivers for a dip are bound to increase. Cautioning such individuals, The Brazos River Authority has issued a warning asking them to protect themselves from a rare water-borne amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, also known as the "brain-eating amoeba".
It causes a rare but lethal infection known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, which can often leads to death. The pathogen is known to flourish in freshwater sources whose temperatures are 80 degrees or above, especially if they are slow-moving or stagnant.
Causes Brain Damage
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, these infections mostly occur where the level of water in the source is low and the temperatures are high. One can contract the infection when the water containing the lethal amoeba makes its way through the nose when someone jumps or dives into waters laden with the pathogen.
Once the microbe enters the nose, it travels through the nasal cavity and makes its way to the brain along the vital olfactory nerve. Upon reaching the brain, it begins damaging brain tissue. Hence the name, "brain-eating amoeba".
Can Be Mistaken For Other Diseases
The good news about the infection is that it cannot be transmitted from one person to another or through the consumption of contaminated water. Unfortunately, it can be mistaken for other illnesses such as bacterial meningitis and flu.
On average, it takes around five days for someone to develop symptoms. These include early symptoms such as fever, headache, and nausea or vomiting. It can however rapidly escalate to more severe symptoms such as hallucinations, loss of balance and seizures. The progression of the disease can be rapid and can lead to death within two weeks after contracting it.
Medical help must be sought immediately if one starts developing symptoms after having had freshwater enter the nose after diving into waters infested with the amoeba.