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Nature & Environment

Rise of the brain-eating amoebas

By T.K. Randall
July 2, 2013 · Comment icon 15 comments



Image Credit: CC 3.0 Arild Vagen
Incidents involving a fatal amoebic organism that dines on your brain are on the increase in the US.
Known by it's scientific name, Naegleria fowleri, the brain-eating amoebas are generally very rare but thanks to warmer temperatures seem to be experiencing a rise in numbers. Found in fresh water, the organisms can be inhaled by swimmers, making their way in to the brain of the victim and dining on their cerebral fluid. Invariably this turns out to be fatal and to date there is no known effective treatment.

While such cases are still extremely unusual, there is concern among experts that an increase in numbers of the organism could lead to a greater number of fatalities in the future. "You could certainly say itís a concern of ours," said Jonathan Yoder of the CDC. "Weíre still trying to understand this."
Itís a fatal infection without an effective treatment, and one that strikes in a decidedly gruesome manner: An amoebic organism lurking in water is inadvertently inhaled during a swim on a hot summerís day.


Source: The Verge | Comments (15)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by Hilander 9 years ago
Just need to join the polar bear club.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Darkwind 9 years ago
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz00ZD6zEuE
Comment icon #8 Posted by Astral Hillbilly 9 years ago
I assume it can't survive in saltwater (ocean water).
Comment icon #9 Posted by Rafterman 9 years ago
The article seems to be a bit alarmist. Even in areas of the Southeast where the amoeba lives traditionally, it is still an extremely rare occurrence given the tens of millions of people that go for a swim in freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams each year. So what if it spreads to northern areas? There's probably a higher chance you'll be struck by lightening.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Xanthurion2 9 years ago
Man, pair this thing with something that makes people want to eat other people and if they don't end up killing each other then we got ourselves a verified zombie disease.
Comment icon #11 Posted by paperdyer 9 years ago
The article seems to be a bit alarmist. Even in areas of the Southeast where the amoeba lives traditionally, it is still an extremely rare occurrence given the tens of millions of people that go for a swim in freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams each year. So what if it spreads to northern areas? There's probably a higher chance you'll be struck by lightening. Speaking of lightning, the lastest radio commercials I've heard in SC state that if you here thunder, even in the distance, lightning is close enough to strike you. IMMEDIATELY seek shelter in a SUBSTANTIAL building or a metal topped ve... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by paperdyer 9 years ago
Wow really nasty,but it will probably starve to death in some cases. You trying to say some people are brainless?
Comment icon #13 Posted by Lava_Lady 9 years ago
Thankful this amoeba doesn't live in the ocean. I only have to worry about sharks, eels, and angry dolphins... whew.
Comment icon #14 Posted by pallidin 9 years ago
When amoeba's start consuming "bath salts", we will have a real problem.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Sundew 9 years ago
This is why I don't swim in fresh water, except for springs, which tend to be cold and the water clean. I watched a bit of the "Turtle Man" yesterday as he was diving into an ugly brown water, duckweed covered, cow manure laden farm pond in search of snapping turtles that had attacked a farmers cows. All I could think of was, it won't be a turtle or alligator that kills the Turtle Man, it will be a tiny amoeba. I cringed every time he dove under that nasty water.


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