Even though encounters with the microscopic bug are extraordinarily rare, it’s killed six boys and young men this year. The spike in cases has health officials concerned, and they are predicting more cases in the future.
The amoeba is Naegleria fowleri and was discovered in …Australia in the 1990’s (given that Australia is the come to giant man-eating crocs, great whites, killer jellyfish, carnivorous kangaroos – unfortunately extinct – and more venomous spiders and snakes than you can shake a stick at, afarensis wonders how this is fair?):
Beach said people become infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom. If someone allows water to shoot up the nose — say, by doing a somersault in chest-deep water — the amoeba can latch onto the olfactory nerve.
The amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up into the brain, where it continues the damage, “basically feeding on the brain cells,” Beach said.
People who are infected tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers. In the later stages, they’ll show signs of brain damage such as hallucinations and behavioral changes, he said.
Once infected, most people have little chance of survival. Some drugs have stopped the amoeba in lab experiments, but people who have been attacked rarely survive, Beach said.
I think I’ll stay out of the water from now on…