What Happens When an Amoeba “Eats” Your Brain?
Infections from Naegleria fowleri, the so-called brain-eating amoeba, may be on the rise–here’s what you should know about the deadly organism
7-18-2014 | Roni Jacobson, Freelance Contributor
Last week, nine-year-old Hally Yust died after contracting a rare brain-eating amoeba infection while swimming near her family’s home in Kansas.
The organism responsible, Naegleria fowleri, dwells in warm freshwater lakes and rivers and usually targets children and young adults. Once in the brain it causes a swelling called primary meningoencephalitis. The infection is almost universally fatal: it kills more than 97 percent of its victims within days.
Although deadly, infections are exceedingly uncommon—there were only 34 reported in the U.S. during the past 10 years—but evidence suggests they may be increasing. Prior to 2010 more than half of cases came from Florida, Texas and other southern states. Since then, however, infections have popped up as far north as Minnesota.
I see a new prevention drug being developed and dispensed at resorts like sunscreen — at a very tidy profit.