Cases of brain eating amoeba infections are very rare despite the many numbers of people who visit areas where the amoeba is found. The regions where high cases of this infection have been reported are in southern and southwestern states of America. However, it is believed that the amoeba originated from Australia in the 1960’s and evolved in the United States. Summers can be the most fun season of the year, but for some families, they may experience tragic endings due to one of their members developing the Naegleria fowleri amoeba infection.(1)
What Temperatures Do Brain Eating Amoeba Live In?
The Naegleria fowleri amoeba is commonly found in hot/warm water bodies. It can exist either as a cyst, amoeboid (trophozoite), or biflagellate, however, it does not form a cyst in human tissue. Soil is yet another suitable habitat for the amoeba provided that the area has warm temperatures. It can survive in waters as hot as 115 degrees or hotter. So, regions which record very warm temperatures could possibly be harboring the N. fowleri amoeba.(1)
Other than the common fresh water bodies such as oceans, lakes, and rivers, the brain eating amoeba can also survive in other areas. They include; hot springs and other geothermal water sources, aquariums, mud puddles, ponds, rock pits, untreated well water, untreated municipal water, polluted runoff water from power plants, untreated swimming pools and soil including soil deposits near fresh water bodies and dust inside your house. At times, the amoeba can be found in house taps, due to the untreated municipal water contaminated with the parasite, flowing through the pipes. Most power plants have thermal polluted runoff water which reduces numbers of competitors which depend on a food supply similar to that of the N. fowleri. Therefore, the amoeba is able to thrive well since it has a motile flagellate stage which is designated for dispersal. Basically, the Naegleria fowleri amoeba loves areas with warm temperatures, water and favorable soil.(1)
Where Can The Brain Eating Amoeba Not Survive?
Cold regions and seasons are not favorable for existence of Naegleria fowleri. This is because the cold temperatures do not favor the growth and multiplication of the amoeba. In addition to that, the amoeba cannot survive in salted water bodies as well as treated water, municipal water or swimming pool. The Naegleria fowleri amoeba cannot also survive in sea water and is sensitive to regions where it is dry and has high acidic (pH) levels. Finally, the amoeba cannot last long in an ecology where there are predators consuming the same food supply, hence a decrease in its population.
Important Facts About The Naegleria Fowleri Amoeba
We already know that the Naegleria fowleri amoeba strive in warm areas and fresh water bodies. You should also be aware that this particular species of Naegleria amoeba is responsible for a fatal brain infection and that is why it is referred to as a brain eating amoeba. The only way this can happen is when the parasite gets into the brain via your nose. It then destroys the brain tissues by feeding on them, and as a result, your brain swells, which can cause death. So, if you swallow water contaminated with the amoeba, then you need not worry on contracting the infection. This is because the stomach is able to fight the amoeba and kill it.(2)
Despite the severity of the brain eating amoeba infection and low survival rate, the chances of contracting it is very low. It is also crucial to know that it is difficult to get rid of this parasite from its habitats. Therefore, to prevent yourself from exposure to the amoeba, you should avoid regions known to accommodate it, and ensuring that your nostrils are well-covered so that it cannot crawl up your brain. Other preventive measures include; avoiding deep swimming in waterbodies where the amoeba can live, keeping your head above water or using nose plugs.
Brain eating amoeba is a free-living parasite that lives in areas with very warm temperatures up-to 115 degrees Celsius or more. Most cases of this ailment are common during summer season, and especially when the temperatures are high for a longer period. As a precaution, if you have been to areas where the Naegleria fowleri amoeba is known to inhabit, make sure you get checked out as early as possible to avoid the deadly brain eating amoeba infection.