Brain-Eating Amoebas Found in Fresh Water

Brain-Eating Amoebas Found in Fresh Water

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  1. Brain eating amoebas have been known to pose serious threats to humans swimming in fresh water lakes, ponds, and under-chlorinated pools. Summers long days and sultry nights of endless heat create the ideal environment for the amoeba known as the Naegleria fowleri, which likes to live in shallow fresh waters where the water temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Open passageways, such as the nostrils, gives this amoeba the perfect access it needs to eat away at the juicy, nutrient-filled human brain.

    Diving into infested waters can be life threatening if these “brain suckers” are present. According to the Center for Disease Control, the Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic amoeba most commonly found in the upper layer of sediment in the bottom of lakes and ponds with mud floors. However, infection occurs rarely. A little over 33 cases have been reported in the United States since 1998.

    Once the amoeba enters the body through the nostrils, it travels straight to the brain and spinal cord. It may take a day to two weeks for symptoms to develop. However, illness resulting from this infestation has a rapid state of progression, and usually ends in death within 3 to 7 days.


    • Headache
    • Confusion
    • Fever
    • Loss of balance and bodily control
    • Nausea and Vomiting
    • Stiff neck
    • Inability to focus
    • Seizures and hallucinations

    The symptoms of amoeba infestation are very similar to spinal meningitis. Therefore, it is important to inform a medical professional if you experience these symptoms after swimming in fresh water lakes, ponds or under-chlorinated pools.

    Prevention Methods

    1. Wear a nose clip in fresh water lakes, rivers, and ponds.
    2. Do not swim, jump or dive in warm, stagnant, fresh water, such as ponds, storm water and retention areas.
    3. Immediately seek medical attention if symptoms develop or infection is suspected.

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