The Florida Department of Health on Friday announced the confirmed case of Naegleria fowleri a microscopic single-celled amoeba that can infect and destroy the brain a rare case of a brain-destroying in Florida.
Naegleria fowleri (commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba” or “brain-eating ameba”), is a species of the genus Naegleria, belonging to the phylum Percolozoa, which is technically not classified as true amoeba, but a shapeshifting amoeboflagellate excavate.
Naegleria fowleri is usually found in warm freshwater like lakes, rivers and ponds and causes a brain disease known as Primary Amebic Meningoencepalitis.
“Adverse health effects on humans can be prevented by avoiding nasal contact with the waters, since the amoeba enters through nasal passages,” the DOH said.
The DOH recommended people avoid bodies of warm freshwater around power plants and shallow fresh water during periods of high water temperature. They should pinch their nose when playing in warm freshwater.
The DOH also noted that you could possibly be exposed to the amoeba through a neti pot when rinsing congested sinuses.
“Use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions,” it said.
Since 1962, there have only been 37 reported cases of the amoeba in Florida. This one was found in Hillsborough County, though the DOH did not give any further details.
In the US, there have been 143 known infected cases of the amoeba, according to the Florida DOH. Only four have survived.