Our family went swimming at a local lake over the weekend. It was my daughter’s first time swimming in the lake and I made sure she had her nose plug on at all times. Whenever she went in the water I required her to wear it, ESPECIALLY when she was near the shore where the water is warmer. She was the only person on a crowded beach with a nose plug on. Many people laughed and stared. I figured they were looking at her because she looked so darn cute and her little pink nose plug made her resemble Rudolph a tad. But I felt that some of the people were giggling and talking quietly to another was because she was wearing a nose plug.
The water was so warm the day we went swimming. The 6 day heatwave had just ended and my husband made the comment that the water was warmer than bathwater. I was disappointed to see that not one other person was protecting their nose, but then it dawned on me that perhaps no one else was aware of the potential harm that could lurk in the water. Therefore, I decided to devote a blog post to the deadly freshwater amoeba: Naegleria Fowleri in hopes to bring some awareness to this 100% preventable killer amoeba.
This particular amoeba lives in freshwater: lakes, rivers, ponds and hot springs. But can also live in pool water if it is not chlorinated properly. Have you ever used a neti-pot before? Did you know that you are only supposed to use distilled or boiled water that has been cooled down? Well that is because of the potential harm of this amoeba. When water heats up near 80º F, the amoeba thrives and if it enters through a nose (adult or child), the amoeba travels to the brain and causes a fatal brain infection called Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM).
Initial symptoms are similar to meningitis and the flu and usually occur 5-7 days after contact, but once the symptoms hit, death occurs just 3-5 days later due to the rapid progression of PAM. Symptoms are not limited to, but could include: Fever, changes in taste, stiff neck, headache, vomiting, confusion, loss of balance, hallucinations or seizures. There is no cure for PAM and it is completely preventable if you are safe. If you look up Naegleria Fowleri on the internet, it is likely that you will find information about it being “rare”, but the truth is that it is common for a misdiagnosis to occur and therefore it is not properly recorded.
When water is warm (I’d say above 70ºF just to be safe, because it can still be present once the water cools), be sure to wear a nose plug or facial mask to keep your nose guarded or just avoid the water all together. The amoeba can enter your nose even without your face being submerged; splashing around in the water can still cause the amoeba to enter your nose.
I first became aware of Naegleria Fowleri when I saw a posting about a family that lost their 7 year old son to this amoeba. They have since dedicated their lives to making people aware of the potential risks of swimming without a nose plug or mask. To read more about this family’s story, visit Kyle Cares. There is also additional info about the amoeba as well.
Currently, there is a 12 year old girl in Arkansas that is suffering from the “rare parasitic meningitis”. Please send positive vibes in her direction, she needs them now more than ever. Here is a link to that story: Kali
Let’s make as many people aware Naegleria Fowleri as possible! Please pin this, share it on facebook, tweet it, blog about it, whatever you have to do to save another person from dying from such a preventable death.
Protect yourself and your family by keeping it plugged!