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Can Naegleria Fowleri Survive In Cold Water?

Naegleria refers to a single-celled living organism or ameba found mainly in hot springs, rivers, lakes and other warm freshwaters, along with the soil and swimming pools. Naegleria fowleri is a particular species of Naegleria that causes infection in people.

Can Naegleria Fowleri Survive In Cold Water?

Can Naegleria Fowleri Survive In Cold Water?

Temperature Required For The Survival Of Naegleria Fowleri In Water

Survival of Naegleria fowleri and its ability to cause infection depends on the underlying temperature of the water. Accordingly, fowleri is a heat-loving i.e. thermophilic type of organism and hence, it grows in its best way at high temperatures of about 115°F or 46°C.

Moreover, Naegleria fowleri survives for only short periods at high temperature values and it is less likely present in water with the decline in temperature. On the other side, fowleri ameba remains in dormant form at cold temperatures, while survive as buried in the river or lake sediments, along with other water bodies. (1)

Survival Of Naegleria Fowleri In Different Water Bodies

Naegleria fowleri is present in almost every region of the world. However, if we talk about the United States, most of the infections caused from the mentioned ameba take place because of its presence in freshwater located in various southern area states. Accordingly, you will find Naegleria fowleri ameba in-

  • Warm freshwater bodies, like rivers and lakes
  • Naturally hot i.e. geothermal water, like for instance hot springs and hot sources of drinking water
  • Warm water discharged from various industries and factories
  • Un-chlorinated, minimally chlorinated and poorly maintained swimming pools
  • Water heaters of temperatures exceeding 115°F or 46°C i.e. the favorable temperature for the growth of Naegleria fowleri
  • Different types of soil (1)

How Naegleria Fowleri Causes Infection in People?

Naegleri fowleri causes infection to people when the water containing the respective ameba enters their body from the nose. This mainly takes place when individuals go for diving or swimming in warm and freshwater places, like rivers and lakes. Later on, the fowleri travels up towards the brain and destroys/damages the brain tissue.

However, you cannot suffer from Naegleria fowleri infection by having contaminated water. Only in very rare cases, fowleri infections take place when the contaminated water from an inadequately chlorinated swimming pool or contaminated water of the tap goes into the nose. (1)


To conclude, we should say that Naegleria fowleri ameba grows in warm fresh water bodies and hot water sources exceeding 115°F or 46°C temperature to cause infections. However, if we talk about the survival of Naegleria fowleri in cold water, they do survive but in dormant form or as buried in the sediments of various water bodies. Hence, the ameba does not cause any infection in the cold water.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 22, 2019

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