What is the amoeba "eat brains" and how can you prevent getting infected? BBC News



Last month, a man in the United States died of a brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis. And Spain and Argentina have had their first business this year. But what is this parasite? And how can contamination be prevented?

The appearance of new cases of primary meningesceophthalitis, a rare disease with a very high mortality rateit has sounded the alarms.

Last month, a surfer died after contracting the amoeba in a wave pool in Texas.

And in Argentina the amoeba caused the death of an eight-year-old boy after the little one swam in a lagoon in what is the first case in this country.

In Spain, a ten-year-old girl survived the infection of the parasite after contracting amoebae earlier this year in a municipal swimming pool.

It is one of the few times that the victim survived, since primary amoebic meningitis is deadly in 97% of cases.

Swimming pool
Warm temperatures promote the development of the amoeba

Why "eat brains"?

According to the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), amoeboid Naegleria fowleri It is a micro-organism which lives in temperate fresh water and can be found in humid soil, in lagoons, ponds and swimming pools.

Infection occurs when contaminated water enters the bodythrough the nostrils.

It is this way that the parasite It reaches the brain and destroys brain tissue. Hence the name with which this organism is known: "amoeba eats brain".

Warm temperatures promote the development of the amoeba, so that most cases occur in the summer.

The infection can start with headache, fever and nausea. As the affected person gets worse, he begins to experience a stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.

The CDC states that the amoeba can not infect a human being if he only takes up contaminated water, nor can it be transferred from person to person.

pond
The & # 39; Naegleria fowleri & # 39; ameboid can be found in lagoons, ponds and swimming pools

¿There is treatment?

Luckily not it is common.

According to the CDC, only 143 people have contracted this infection in the United States between 1962 and 2017. But of this, only four survived.

It is estimated that only a dozen people in the world have survived the infection, which is usually more common in countries such as Pakistan, because practicing washings (purification in water) increases the chance of spreading through the nostrils. .

It is normally used an antiparasitic drug called miltefosine to treat patients. In 2013, this medicine saved two lives.

The ten-year-old girl who survived the amoeba in Spain was also treated with antiparasitic agents, because antibiotics do not work in these cases.

When it comes to prevention, the US Department of Health recommends that water be kept out the nose when swimming in fresh water, cover the nose by hand, hold it out of the water or use a clamp to cover the holes.

It is important to remember that The chance of getting infected with this parasite is very low. But if you feel really worried, it is best to swim in the sea as the parasite avoids the cold and salty water.


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