Dec, 2021 - By WMR
fowleri cases are observed from the Midwestern states of the U.S., and the infection seems to be spreading towards the north.
Infections caused by a brain damaging amoeba have occurred in the southern parts of the U.S., however, recently cases have been observed in the Northern zones too. According to experts, this infection is spreading due to climate change. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has examined these cases for over a period of 40 years in the U.S. The infections are caused by Naegleria fowleri (N. fowleri), which is a certain brain-eating amoeba. According to the CDC, the incidence rate has remained the same over the years but geographical area has extended and shifted towards the north. As a result, more cases have been witnessed in the mid-western states compared to the previous years.
fowleri, a single-celled organism, is found in warm freshwater. The organism is mainly found in water bodies such as rivers and lakes. This amoeba can cause a devastating infection in the brain, which is known as PAM i.e. primary amebic meningoencephalitis. PAM is a fatal condition. The infections mainly occur when the contaminated water enters a person's body through the nasal canals, allowing the amoeba to perforate the person's brain through the olfactory nerves, and then the organism slowly destroys the brain tissues. However, swallowing the contaminated water does not seem to cause an infection.
The organism can thrive in temperatures above 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) and due to global warming, it is a possibility that they are expanding in water bodies all over the U.S. According to a published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal on December 16, 2020, the spread of N. fowleri in the U.S. is a result of water exposure stemming from activities such as swimming in ponds, reservoirs, or lakes between the years 1978 and 2018.