Rivers & Lakes Across America May Have Brain-Eating Amoeba Lurking in Them, Experts Warn

by Jonathan Howard

With warm summer temperatures, the outdoors is getting a little scarier. Rivers and lakes could be contaminated with a brain-eating amoeba. There are all kinds of algae and bacteria and things that can grow in very warm weather. Here in Kentucky we usually see signs up around this time of year at certain popular swimming holes, warning of such things. However, naegleria fowleri isn’t just any bacteria.

This brain-eating amoeba loves weather of around 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It thrives in those conditions. Living in freshwater, the parasite is able to enter the body through the nose. From there, it goes straight to the brain where it does its thing. Eating brain tissue.

This is a very scary parasite as it does have a high rate of death. In the last 60 years, there have been 154 known cases of the amoeba. No medical treatment really exists to treat it, and there is little else known about it. Right now, a boy in Florida has been dealing with the parasite. Also this year, a Missouri man died after swimming in an Iowa lake.

Out of those 154 cases since 1962, 40 have been in Texas alone with Florida adding another 36 infections. Given the warm weather of those two states, it makes sense why the cases would be clustered around there in the United States.

Symptoms usually take one to nine days in order to show up. When someone is infected, those symptoms include headaches, nausea as well as fatigue. Infections are commonly misdiagnosed as meningitis, which can lead to wasting precious time that could have been spent on recovery efforts.

With those hot temperatures all around, folks are looking for some relief. However, this might make some folks think twice before taking a dive.

Doctor Explains Brain-Eating Amoeba

So, before you get too worried out there, it is still a rare issue. This brain-eating amoeba has some characteristics that folks should know about. Not only does it enter through the nose, mainly, but if it gets into your stomach, you should be fine.

Dr. Anjan Debnath at UC San Diego talked about the parasite to DailyMail.

“It’s quite rapid, it’s very progressive. It literally eats the brain tissue.”

Another tip that Dr. Debnath revealed is that if you are in a lake or stream, you should avoid kicking up the dirt and mud too much. That’s where the parasite lives, mainly. Those warmer temps in the dirt and mud let it sit silently, waiting to be kicked up.

So, make sure to stay aware if you’re in hot temperatures and swimming in freshwater. It’s nice to take a dip and cool off, but make sure you’re safe doing it all summer long.