Naegleria is a type of fatal brain infection caused mainly from an ameba of the same name and found often in hot springs, rivers and freshwater lakes. Exposure to the ameba takes place only when an individual involves in swimming activity or any other similar type of water sports. Naegleria fowleri ameba travels in the upward direction from the nose to human brain for causing severe damages.


A prime aspect to worry in this case is that most of the people with naegleria fowleri infection survive hardly for one-week period. Even a large numbers of people exposed to this harmful microorganism and suffers infection, but only a few of them fall sick because of it.


Until now, doctors and other health experts are unaware of the reason, for which only a few people develop the infection, while others do not. However, one can prevent Naegleria fowleri infections by avoiding warm fresh water bodies and wearing of nose clips while swimming or doing any aqua activities. (1)

What Causes You To Have Naegleria Infection?

Naegleria infection takes place from the ameba named Naegleria fowleri i.e. the microorganism found mainly in warm fresh water bodies across the world and often during the months of summer season. Even in some cases, ameba remains present in the soil. Irrespective of the source, Naegleria fowleri ameba enters the body of a person through his or her nose via dust or contaminated water and travels to the brain from the surrounding nerves responsible to transmit the smelling sense.


On the other side, the mentioned ameba never spreads among individuals or due to the consumption of contaminated water. Along with this, fowleri survives in un-chlorinated swimming pools, because of which we should say that disinfected and properly cleaned swimming pools do not contain the respective ameba. Based on the aforementioned facts, we can say that Naegleria fowleri ameba survives in following places-

  • Rivers, lakes and other similar types of warm freshwater bodies
  • Discharge of warm/hot water from any industrial plant
  • Naturally hot water, including the hot springs
  • Naturally hot sources of drinking water
  • Un-chlorinated and poorly maintained swimming pools
  • Varieties of soil at some of the cases (1)

Naegleria Fowleri Grows And Causes Infection At High Temperatures

Naegleria Fowleri is a type of heat-loving microorganism or a thermophilic microorganism. Accordingly, it often grows at high temperature i.e. approximately 46 degree Celsius to cause infections. However, the ameba survives for only a limited period at high temperature and less likely present in any water body with the decline in temperature. On the other side, you will find Naegleria fowleri ameba in the sediments of river or lakes at low temperature range instead of finding it in the water. (2)

Risk Factors That Cause The Naegleria Infection

Other than the aforementioned facts about prime causes, water body sources and temperature ranges related to the infection from Naegleria fowleri, you would find a few risk factors to cause the same infection. Accordingly-

Risk Factors for Naegleria Infection Based On The Location/Country

Millions of people located in different cities and regions of the United States expose to the Naegleria fowleri ameba to suffer from infections yearly but only few people fall sick because of it. Moreover, if you check the statistics related to fowleri infection between the years 2007 and 2017, you will find 40 fowleri ameba infections in total. (1)

Risk Factors for Naegleria Infection Based On Other Major Aspects

A few of the risk factors related to increasing your Naegleria fowleri risk include the following-

  • Swimming In Freshwater. Most of the people fall sick because of swimming in any freshwater lake (especially un-chlorinated ones) and suffer complications within only a few weeks.
  • Hot Water/Warm Water. Naegleria ameba often thrives in hot or warm water.
  • Adults And Children. Young adults and children are common age groups to suffer infection from Naegleria fowleri because of the fact that they stay in water or actively participate in water sports activities for a relatively long time. (1)


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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: June 13, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer


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