Naegleria infection is an infection mediated by an amoeba named Naegleria fowleri. This infection is a rare disease but its fatality rate is very high. Its mode of infection is warm freshwater sources. When somebody dives, swims or jumps into the contaminated water, it causes the forceful entrance of contaminated water into the nose. It reaches the brain and causes inflammation and damage to the brain. There is no definite cure for the disease.
Can You Be Cured Of Naegleria Infection?
Naegleria infection is a rare disease that can affect anyone due to swimming, diving or jumping in the fresh water. It is caused by Naegleria fowleri, a species of amoeba. It is also known as brain-eating amoeba. It affects only those people who swim or dive in the contaminated water. It is a fatal disease and is known to cause death in nearly every case. It was first identified in Australia but it is believed that it evolved in the US. (1)
Naegleria fowleri is a thermophilic (warm temperature loving) organism. It is an amoeba which is found in freshwater sources such as a lake, river, and swimming pools. It survives in warm temperature. Its growth happens best at a high temperature of 46 degrees C (115 degrees F). However, it may survive for a short time if temperature increases and die when the temperature drops down. (2) It cannot live in seawater. It cannot survive in chlorinated or treated water. (1)
Naegleria fowleri reproduces rapidly by cell division. Its reproduction depends on favorable conditions. If its conditions are not right, they form inactive cysts. In favorable conditions, these cysts develop into trophozoites. These trophozoites are feeding form of amoeba. (1)
Naegleria fowleri is found-
- In warm lakes, ponds and rock pits
- Muddy puddles
- Warm slow flowing rivers that flow low
- Untreated municipal or well water
- Untreated spas or swimming pools
- Hot springs
- Geothermal water reserves
- Warm polluted water from power plants
Its infection occurs when the contaminated water is forced into the nose. The amoeba travels to the brain through the olfactory nerve and causes inflammatory changes in the brain cells. These changes damage the cells and cause fatal results. It ultimately leads to death in 1 to 9 days after the appearance of symptoms. Its symptoms appear within one or two weeks of exposure to causative amoeba. Its symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, nausea, stiffness in the neck, loss of appetite, seizures, and coma.(2)
Naegleria infection is diagnosed with the microscopic study of the cerebrospinal fluid. It is collected through a lumbar puncture. It gives information about the presence of the amoeba, blood cells, proteins that have abnormal values in the blood. In some cases, an MRI or CT scan of the head is performed to study the extent of the disease. (3)
The one promising way to treat Naegleria infection is antifungal medicines named amphotericin B. It is injected intravenously near the spinal cord. Another new drug is introduced in the market namely miltefosine. It appears to be effective for the treatment of Naegleria infection.
Other medicines for naegleria infection involve fluconazole, azithromycin (antibiotic) and rifampin (antibiotic). However, it may interfere with the action of other medicines for the treatment of the infection. (3)
This infection is rare and its clinical studies and trials are also limited. So, there is no effective cure. It cannot be cured. Only a few people have survived from this disease. However, only 4 out of 143 people have survived from this infection in 1962 to 2017. (2)
Naegleria infection is a rare infection that affects the brain. It may infect when contaminated water enters the nose and travels to the brain causing inflammation of the brain. It cannot be cured as it is a rapidly proceeding disease that usually leads to death.