Waterborne Amoeba Takes the Life of Kansas Girl
Last month, ABC News reported that Kansas health officials were urging caution for people entering warm freshwater after a 9-year-old girl became the latest victim of primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
PAM is caused by Naegleria fowleri, commonly referred to as the brain-eating amoeba. The amoeba infects people when water containing the organism enters the body through the nose. This typically occurs when people are swimming or diving in warm freshwater places. It then travels up the nose to the brain where it destroys brain tissue.
Naegleria fowleri is the only one species of Naegleria known to infect people. The amoeba has also been implicated in the past for PAM infections related to the use of neti pots. If contaminated water is used in the neti pot to flush out a person’s sinuses, the amoeba could cause an infection.
Although Naegleria fowleri is found around the world, in the United States the majority of infections have occurred in southern-tier states. The amoeba can be found in bodies of warm freshwater, including lakes and rivers; geothermal water and hot springs; warm water discharge from industrial plants; soil; poorly maintained swimming pools; and water heaters with temperatures less than 47°C.
“Fortunately, tragic cases of PAM like what just occurred in Kansas are quite rare,” said Charles Li, Ph.D., Director of PCR and DNA Analysis at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “Sadly, when they do occur, the results are often fatal. At EMSL, we offer testing services to identify this amoeba from environmental samples utilizing highly sensitive PCR testing techniques that harness DNA amplification methodologies to provide for exceptionally accurate and rapid results.”
EMSL has sponsored an educational video about Naegleria fowleri that can be seen at: http://youtu.be/vLT82VMnNgQ.
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental, microbial pathogen, indoor air quality and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.
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