Everything You Must Know About Brain-Eating Amoeba

Nowadays, the brain-eating amoeba is again in the news because of the death of a 15-year-old boy from Alappuzha district in Kerala, caused by this rare disease. The young boy experienced a high fever for a week. It is believed that he got in touch with Naegleria fowleri while bathing in a stream, which is intended to be a source of the infection. It can cause inflammation in the brain and destroys tissues of the brain by eating them. Doctors call it primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Naegleria fowleri develops in several natural environments, especially warm water habitats. But it can’t survive in saline conditions, that’s why it is not found in seawater.

What is Brain-Eating Amoeba?

There are various types of Naegleria but fowleri type can cause PAM. Firstly, it was identified in Australia. It is 8 to 15 micrometres in size, based on its life stage and environment. Like other amoebas, Naegleria is reproduced by cell division. The amoebas become inactive cysts when the conditions are not right. The cysts become trophozoites when the conditions are right.

What is a brain-eating amoeba found in?

The brain-eating amoeba can be found in stagnant freshwater such as streams, ponds, and lakes. They enter the body through the nose and start destroying brain tissues and cause inflammation in the brain. Most Naegleria fowleri infections have been linked to swimming and bathing in water bodies.

When was brain-eating amoeba discovered?

Once they enter the nose, they travel to the brain and cause swelling in the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which can cause death. Firstly, it was found in 1965 in Australia.

What temperature kills Naegleria fowleri?

50ºC heating water for 5 minutes can kill any type of amoeba. Both cysts and amoeba can tolerate 65ºC temperature for 1-3 minutes. If the temperature reaches below 10ºC, the degradation occurs.

Is brain-eating amoeba painful?

The symptoms of PAM occur suddenly and are worse at the start, including:

  • high fever

  • trembling

  • vomiting and nausea

  • painful headache

  • mental confusion

  • coma

The death rate is higher than 97% even if an affected person gets treatment. The first signs of amoeba include loose feces (poop), stomach cramping, and stomach pain.

Can you prevent brain-eating amoeba?

Because the results of this rare condition can lead to fatality, it is important to take preventive measures to avoid getting in touch with this deadly disease.

  • Avoid swimming or doing watersports in warm freshwater. Don’t swim in the water if there are chances of having Naegleria fowleris in the water.

  • Avoid using tap water for a neti pot. Make sure to use distilled water. If you use tap water, then boil it for one minute and after cooling it, you can use it.

  • Ensure to use filters for clean water. To disinfect water for cleaning your nose, you can use chlorine bleach liquid.

  • If you experience symptoms of high fever, make sure to consult your doctor.

Can brain-eating amoeba be cured?

For PAM, amphotericin B is the treatment. It is mentioned that a few North American survivors were given a treatment regimen that included amphotericin B, rifampin, fluconazole, and miltefosine, a drug licenced for treating a parasitic condition brought on by sandflies. However, early diagnosis and treatment with the suggested medications offered the best results, as seen with two youngsters who made a full recovery. In order to alleviate brain swelling, the procedure also entails lowering body temperature.

Can water be tested to check if it has brain-eating amoeba?

Yes. Experts can collect water samples from a lake or pool, concentrate them, and grow them in a lab to look for N. fowleri. The amoeba can then be found by running appropriate laboratory tests on the samples.

Who is at high risk of getting infected with PAM?

Adult males and children who are 13 years old or younger are said to be more susceptible to this disease. It might be a result of the fact that more members of these groups engage in activities that expose them to the amoeba.


A brain-eating amoeba has been becoming a hot topic nowadays. Therefore, early diagnosis can help get rid of this problem. If you notice that you have been exposed to infected warm water, get emergency medical attention. Moreover, get health updates by subscribing to Personal Care N Heal.

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