Friday, August 16, 2013

What We Do—and Don't—Know About Brain-Eating Amoebas

CDC scientist breaks down infection risk and story behind two recent cases of this rare illness.

A freshwater amoeba. 

The feeding structures of the amoeba Naegleria fowleri have a face-like appearance.

A second child is battling infection by a typically fatal parasite that enters through the nose and consumes brain tissue.

Weeks after a 12-year-old Arkansas girl contracted the parasite while swimming in a sandy-bottom lake at a water park in Little Rock, the Florida Department of Health has confirmed a case in Glades County, Florida. A 12-year-old boy was hospitalized over the weekend, his family told CNN affiliate WBBH, after kneeboarding in a water-filled ditch near his house.

This rare form of parasitic meningitis—primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM)—is caused by an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. That microscopic amoeba—part of the class of life called protozoans—is a naturally occurring organism that normally feeds on bacteria and tends to live in the sedimentary layer of warm lakes and ponds.

For the rest of the story:

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