Naegleria infection is caused by the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, which is commonly found in warm bodies of fresh water around the world, usually during the summer months. The amoeba is also sometimes found in soil. The amoeba enters your body through your nose, via contaminated water or dust, and travels to your brain through the nerves that transmit your sense of smell.
Only a tiny percentage of the millions of people who are exposed to Naegleria fowleri ever get sick from it. Why some people become infected after exposure and others don't isn't known.
The amoeba isn't spread from person to person or by drinking contaminated water. And properly cleaned and disinfected swimming pools don't contain the naegleria amoeba.
July 16, 2015
- Naegleria fowleri — Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) — Amebic Encephalitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/index.html. Accessed June 4, 2015.
- Seas C, et al. Free-living amebas. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 4, 2015.
- Naegleria fowleri — General information. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/general.html. Accessed June 4, 2015.
- Naegleria fowleri — Treatment. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/treatment.html. Accessed June 9, 2015.
- Steckelberg JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 9, 2015.