Naegleria infection causes a disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (muh-ning-go-un-sef-uh-LIE-tis). This disease causes brain inflammation and destruction of brain tissue.
Generally beginning within two to 15 days of exposure to the amoeba, signs and symptoms of naegleria infection may include:
- A change in the sense of smell or taste
- Sudden, severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to light
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of balance
These signs and symptoms can progress rapidly. They typically lead to death within a week.
When to see a doctor
Seek immediate medical attention if you develop a sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck and vomiting, particularly if you have recently been in warm, fresh water.
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.