The chances of surviving brain eating amoeba are narrow. At the same time, the likelihood of contracting the disease of the amoeba are slim. Many of the people who have been diagnosed with the Naegleria fowleri infection have kicked the bucket. Regardless, there have been four cases of survival. Well, to protect yourself from the menacing brain eating amoeba, it is vital that you know the causes and where you are likely to be exposed to the amoeba. The hot/warm seasons, especially summer is when cases of brain eating amoeba infection are high. This is because the amoeba strives in hot temperatures – 115 degrees or even hotter.(2)
Exposure To The Brain Eating Amoeba
The risk of getting brain eating amoeba is low, but then again, if you are in an area where you can easily be exposed, it is better to be safe than sorry. The risk factors involved with Naegleria fowleri infection include;
- Fresh water bodies/sources such as rivers, lakes and hot springs. Many people during the warm season visit fresh water bodies for recreational purposes. Swimming underwater, diving, skinny-dipping, water skiing and any other active water recreational activities can increase the likelihood of developing brain eating amoeba infection. This is because such activities can be forceful thus pushing the contaminated water in your nose.(2)
- Heat waves or long period of hot temperature also increase the risk of being exposed to the Naegleria fowleri amoeba. The hot temperature is sufficient for growth and multiplication of the amoeba. As a matter of fact, it can survive in temperatures as hot as 115 degrees and for a short period of time, they can survive in hotter temperatures.
- Another risk factor to exposure of brain eating amoeba is age. The most cases of infections from the amoeba are in children and young adults. They are at a greater risk because they love spending more time in water and engaging in the aforementioned recreation activities.
Finally, we have untreated water running through kitchen taps or in swimming pools. Well, this does not often happen, but in cases where the water is untreated, it could be harboring the amoeba.(2)
How Can You Protect Yourself From Brain Eating Amoeba?
Now that we have established the risk factors of Naegleria fowleri amoeba, we can move forward to determining ways of protecting oneself. These preventive measures will help reduce the risk of infections from the bacteria, and hence reduce the number of people dying from the disease. Here is how you can protect yourself;
- Avoid swimming deep or jumping into warm fresh water lakes and rivers. In addition to that, do not put your head inside hot water springs.
- Shallow waters tend to be warmer that deeper waters. So, try as much as possible not to disturb the sediments in shallow warm waters.(1)
- When skinny-dipping, diving or sweeping deep, hold your nose to avoid the water from forcefully entering your nose. Alternatively, use nose clips to keep your nasal opening shut. Also, avoid jumping/diving in water feet first as it gives a direct clear path for the amoeba to get into your nose.(2)
- Water treatment should be adhered to especially in water that ends up in people’s homes. As for swimming pool water, ensure that it is chlorinated or well-treated as regularly as possible.
- People who use neti pots to clear their sinuses should use recommended cleaning procedures provided and not fresh tap water, which could possibly be contaminated. In short, use saline solutions to clean neti pots.
Finally, you can invest in new technology that can trap and kill microorganisms including the brain eating amoeba, to purify water for household use.
Millions of people are exposed to the brain eating amoeba but, only a small number develop the infection. There cannot be a restriction to visiting fresh water bodies, but preventive measures can be adopted by people visiting such areas to avoid contracting the illness. Considering how many lives the brain eating amoeba has claimed through its infection, it is crucial to be cautious.