Brain-Eating Amoeba That Kills 97 Percent of Infected Back in Texas Waters
Be choosy about where you decide to swim this summer, especially with temperatures on the rise in Central Texas.
Rising temperatures and lower water levels increase the risk of Naegleria fowleri, a deadly microbe that can be present in freshwater, pools, and springs. It is less likely to be found in the water as temperatures go down, which isn't going to happen anytime soon.
Brazos River Authority Warning
According to Newsweek, the Brazos River Authority said last week that people living in warm states such as Texas "should assume there is a risk when entering all warm freshwater bodies," because of record heat in Temple, Belton, and Killeen.
While the agency went on to state that you shouldn't be afraid to swim in your favorite spots, you should also use extra caution while in the water.
What is Naegleria Fowleri?
Naegleria is an amoeba, or single-celled organism, that is commonly found in warm freshwater like lakes, rivers, hot springs, and soil. Only one type of Naegleria infects people: Naegleria fowleri, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The microbe is able to infect people when water containing the organism gets into the body through the nose. This usually occurs when someone is swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers.
What Happens if You Get Infected with Naegleria Fowleri?
The Naegleria fowleri travels from the nose to the brain where it destroys brain tissue. As a result, it expands, causing the heart and lungs to stop working properly. The fatality rate for those infected is around 97 percent, and treatments are limited.
Early symptoms of Naegleria fowleri infection are similar to those caused by other illnesses like bacterial meningitis. If you have recently been in warm freshwater then develop fever, headache, stiff neck, and vomiting, you should get medical help right away.
Avoiding a Brain-Eating Amoeba
- Preventative steps to prevent the microbe from from entering your system include:
- Wearing nose clips or holding one's nose
- Avoiding submerging one's head in water
- Don't stir up underwater sediment while swimming (microbe can be found in soil)
- Avoid water activities in warm freshwater where the water level is low or stagnant
- If there is a 'No Swimming' sign, do not get in the water