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Health Talk With Dr Wrinkle : The Brain Eating Amoeba
A beautiful Sunday eve to everyone, hope you are enjoying your weekend and no swimming in untreated pools, river and lakes. Am sure you must be wondering why the swimming part. Had a research, I have been working on for a couple of days now, tagged 'The Brain eater' . Really an interesting material to work on. The disease caused by this brain eating monster is called "Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis or Naegleriasis.
Today I will be sharing my knowledge with you on the topic above. To a layman it seems impossible, because how on earth will a tiny creature like amoeba, invade the human brain, when we have a well functioning immune system.
Tell Us, About The Brain Eating Amoeba
The amoeba is a single cell orgnaism, of the eukaryote kingdom. The specie I will be discussing on is the Naegleria Fowleri, a thermophilic organism which thrives in warm fresh water, lakes and river up to a temperature of 45°C and also in contaminated water bodies like swimming pools, water pipes, and spas. They are not found in salt water, so you can't find this organisms in oceans, salty lakes or other water bodies. They have 3 life cycles which suits their habitats and mode of survivals.
Their original food source includes bacteria and other zooplanktons and never interested in humans as food.
Mention The 3 life cycles of the Organism
Naegleria Fowleri reproduces by cell division, a form of asexual reproduction common to many unicellular organism. It has 3 life cycle which suits its mode of survival;
i) Cyst : The organism changes to this form whenever the environment isn't suitable for survival.
ii) Trophozoite : This is the active and harmful stage of the organism. Replication is actively carried out in this stage. It is found in the human brain.
iii) Flagellate : This form is the stage in between the cyst and trophozoite. It is found outside the human body. It is characterized by the presence of two flagella.
Remember, the organism can actively change to any of this stage, depending on the condition of the environment.
Explain A Functional Immune System?
An immune system refers to compartments, components, enzymes, cells and tissues responsible for the prevention of diseases and other harmful manifestation in humans. They are system responsible for the body's immunity. Examples of immune system include the skin, tonsil, lymphoid system, thymus and white blood cells (neutrophil, eosinophil, basophil), etc. A functional immune system is one which is able to confer protection to a body.
How Does Man Gets In to Trouble With The Brain Eating Amoeba ?
Like I earlier said, the naegleria fowleri feeds on bacteria and other smaller organisms. And its found in contaminated water bodies, if man swims or bath in such places, it and the water enters the nose which is the only route of being infected by the organism.
How ? Does It Mean They Are No Other Routes ?
Yes, the only mode of being infected is through the nose. Which implies drinking of water infected with this organism has no effect. Unless such water, enters our nose.
How Does It Reaches The Brain ?
Studying the anatomy of the human nose,it has an opening through which the organism swims into the Brain.
On entering the nose, the organism having possess receptors for acetylcholine, which is also a neurotransmitter secreted by neurons found in the olfactory nerve, is attracted by such secretion, invading the olfactory nerve and traveling through the cribriform plate, it reaches the olfactory bulb, which is located in the brainstem.
On getting to this point, it is already in the brain, and the neuron here secretes acetylcholine. The brain zombie begins it's attack on brain tissues, regardless series of attack by the body's immune system. It renders all protection, null and void, and continues it's destruction and feasting on brain cells. This grand party organized by the organism on the brain, continues for 5 day before symptoms manifest. During this period, they will be accumulation of fluid in the brain, which leads to its expansion. And further expanding leads to the compression of the brain stem which is a site for breathing, when this happens, such an individual dies.
What Are The Symptoms Associated?
Infestation by this organism leads to a disease called Primary amoebic Meningoencephalitis, which is often misdiagnosed as viral meningitis.
The symptoms include;
Anorexia (loss of appetite)
Loss of taste.
other symptoms could include hallucination and blurred vision.
Is It A Communicable Disease ?
No, it cannot be passed from one person to another. Remember the only means of transmission is through the nose.
How Deadly Is the Disease ?
The mortality rate of the disease is very high and patients die in less than 5-6 days after manifestation of symptoms. Chances of surviving after being infected, is 2 on a scale of 10. Reports shows, out of 154 people in USA, infected with the disease since 1960 till 2020, only 4 had manage to survive the deadly disease.
What Drug Can Be Used To Treat Naegleriasis ?
I will advice you visit the hospital when you experience the above symptoms, it is against medical ethics to prescribe drugs without proper examination and investigations. Drugs for treatment of the disease is still a puzzle yet to be solved fully.
How Can I Prevent Being Infected?
As drugs for complete treatment of the disease are still being experimented, individuals are advice to take preventive measures in order to avoid being infected by the dangerous organisms, such include;
Avoid swimming in contaminated water like lakes, streams, river.
Avoid the use of contaminated water to wash your face.
Properly disinfect your swimming pool.
Don't swimming in untreated water bodies like pools, spa.
Health is wealth, guard it with care. Value every precious moment of your life.