Brain Eating Amoeba: Public health officials in Mohave County, Arizona, and the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) are working together to confirm a suspected case of Naegleria fowleri, a rare brain-eating amoeba.
Specimens were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for testing on Tuesday, according to AZDHS. The suspected case has not been confirmed, but officials are investigating possible exposures and locations.
Naegleria fowleri infections are rare, with between zero and five cases diagnosed annually in the United States from 2013 to 2022. There have been reports of 29 infections in total.
The amoeba can cause a serious infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). PAM is a rare and often fatal disease. The amoeba typically enters the body through the nose, when contaminated water is inhaled. This can happen while swimming, diving, or bathing in warm, fresh water, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs.
Symptoms of PAM typically develop within one to seven days of exposure and can include:
- Severe headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stiff neck
- Loss of consciousness and coma
If you experience any of these symptoms after swimming, diving, or bathing in warm, fresh water, seek medical attention immediately.
The CDC recommends taking the following precautions to prevent Naegleria fowleri infection:
- Avoid swimming in warm, fresh water, especially if the water is cloudy or stagnant.
- If you do swim in warm, fresh water, hold your nose shut and avoid diving.
- Use a nose clip when swimming to prevent water from entering your nose.
- Flush your nose with clean water after swimming.
- Avoid pumping water directly from fresh water sources into nasal passages, such as during nasal douching or irrigation.
If you have any questions or concerns about Naegleria fowleri infection, please contact your doctor or local health department.
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