Attack of the Killer Amoebas? A new Global Warming threat …

There are things that you really (REALLY) don’t want to learn about and, like Mad-Cow Disease, truly do not want to encounter (nor, perhaps, wish on your worst enemy), Global Warming might be increasing the reach of a brain-eating amoeba that thrives in certain warm water conditions.

According to the AP,

According to the CDC, the amoeba called Naegleria fowleri (nuh-GLEER-ee-uh FOWL’-erh-eye) killed 23 people in the United States, from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials noticed a spike with six cases — three in Florida, two in Texas and one in Arizona. The CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.

Okay, only a couple of hundred people killed in 40ish years and, well, is a spike of six something to care about?

the amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up into the brain, where it continues the damage, “basically feeding on the brain cells,”

Let’s talk about Naegleria for a moment,

Infection with Naegleria causes the disease primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain inflammation, which leads to the destruction of brain tissue.

Initial signs and symptoms of PAM start 1 to 14 days after infection. These symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and stiff neck. As the amebae cause more extensive destruction of brain tissue this leads to confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the onset of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually results in death within 3 to 7 days.

Let us put it simply, not beautiful to contemplate. In real world, looks to be 100% fatality rate from infection to … death …

Look, the odds are VERY low of being infected. How many 10s of millions of times do people go swimming in relevant waters for every infection. But, here are the CDC’s recommendations as to how to lower the risk:

  • Avoid swimming or jumping into bodies of warm freshwater, hot springs, and thermally-polluted water such a water around power plants.
  • Avoid swimming or jumping into freshwater during periods of high temperature and low water volume.
  • Hold the nose shut or use nose clips when jumping or diving into bodies of warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, or hot springs.
  • Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while swimming in shallow, warm freshwater areas.
  • Do not swim in areas posted as “no swimming” or in areas warning about an increased risk of Naegleria infection.

Well, okay, the last speaks for itself. The first?  Well, the point is that this is warm-water loving threat. From the AP report,

“This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better,” Beach said. “In future decades, as temperatures rise, we’d expect to see more cases.”

Well, if people get terrified at the thoughts of sharks at the beach, will brain-feeding amoeba get their attention?

the amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up into the brain, where it continues the damage, “basically feeding on the brain cells,”

And, will that attention help them to realize that their own actions, their own energy-wasteful habits, are contributing to the risk.

What is the top method, perhaps, for avoiding your grandchildren’s infection:  become carbon neutral, NOW!


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