How to Protect Yourself from Naegleria fowleri?


Some new cases of Naegleria Fowleri have been reported in Karachi in the past week and sadly these people have lost their lives. This is a brief insight on this so that awareness can be brought.

Naegleria Fowleri, also known as the brain eating amoeba in humans, is a water borne disease and is heat stable to a good extent, especially the 2 variants of Naegleria Fowleri.

It originates in hot weather in unchlorinated swimming pools, Lakes, Ponds & Stagnant water reservoirs. Even in river banks at times.

The life Cycle has 3 Phases:

1. The cyst
2. The trophozoite
3. The flagellate.

Only the amoebic trophozoite (the egg form) hits human tissue and goes into the human nervous system via the nasal mucosa (infested water through the nose). Once inside it invades and reproduces by fission in a matter of hours invading the brain and neuronal areas. Mostly present in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Once in this stage it is most dangerous and produces a condition called PAMS (Primary amoebic meningioencephalitis).

These amoebas can be found in warm places around the globe; it grows best at temperature above 45. N. fowleri is found in:

1. Warm lakes, ponds, and rock pits
2. Mud puddles
3. Warm, slow-flowing rivers, especially those with low water levels
4. Untreated swimming pools and spas
5. Untreated well water or untreated municipal water
6. Hot springs and other geothermal water sources
7. Thermally polluted water, such as runoff from power plants
8. Aquariums
9. Soil, including indoor dust
10. Water tanks

Medical experts have declared the water from water tankers commonly used in Defence and Clifton as a major source of N. Fowleri.

Signs & Symptoms:

1. Headaches
2. Nausea
3. Vomiting
4. Fever
5. Hallucinations
6. Ataxia (Inhibited Movement)
7. Seizures.

Preventive Measures:

1. Chlorination of water: ( 0.5 mg/ litre for drinking water, 2.5 – 3 mg/litre for swimming pools) chlorine is also available in form of bleach in market – bleach contains 30% chlorine.
2. PotashAlum in water.
3. Sulphur in water.
4. Water purifier tablets.
5. Water used from a Reverse Osmosis plant and then chlorinated and purified.
6. Clean well water bored deep down and RO filtered.
7. When washing your face or cleaning your nose use one of the above mentioned waters. During wudu do not push water to deep into the nostrils.

According to medical experts, manifest a prophylactic dose of Tetracyline, Metronidazole and Sparfloxacin have shown results in some cases yet this not 100% guaranteed to work. If you feel a combo of these symptoms go directly to your Doctor/ER without wasting time as time is critical. The incubation period is from 24 hrs to 1 week varying from person to person.