Naegleriasis

Naegleriasis is an uncommon but nearly uniformly fatal infection of the central nervous system caused by the amoebae - naegleria fowleri.

Where does it occur?

It occurs worldwide, primarily in warm fresh water, like late summer ponds, pools and thermal springs and rarely in hot tubs, spas and improperly maintained swimming pools

How is it transmitted?

The amoebae invade the nasal membranes when one swims or dives in contaminated fresh water

Is it contagious from person to person?

It is not contagious from person to person.

What is the risk for travelers?

The risk is low, only a few hundred cases have been reported worldwide.

How soon after exposure will one develop symptoms?

Anywhere from 3-7 days after exposure.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Early on one may sense changes in smell or taste followed by fever, sore throat, headache, nausea, vomiting and neck stiffness progressing to change in consciousness and coma. Most people succumb within 7-10 days of the infection

Are there any lab tests to diagnose the illness?

Diagnosis is made by demonstrating the amoebae on stains of the spinal fluid.

Is there any treatment?

Medications like amphotericin-B are used but the illness has been fatal in nearly 95% of individuals despite treatment.

What preventive measures can be taken?

Avoid swimming or diving into fresh water lakes, ponds, springs especially if there has been known cases of illness in the area.

Avoid swimming in non-chlorinated pools.

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