Fatal brain-eating amoeba infections have surfaced in the southern states of the US in the past. However, the deadly infection has started showing up farther north in the US as well in recent years. Experts have said that climate change might have caused this disturbing migration. Experts from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been looking at cases of this brain-eating amoeba which is also known as Naegleria Fowleri. They have been studying these cases for over four decades in the United States. Experts have seen that though the number of cases surfacing each year has remained the same, however, the disease has been shifting its reach northward. The study has shown that there has been an increase in Naegleria Fowleri cases surfacing in Midwestern states as compared to past decades. The CDC has reported that Naegleria Fowleri is a single-celled organism, which can be seen in warm freshwaters such as lakes and rivers. It can trigger devastating brain infection, which is called Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM). It is generally a fatal type of infection, said the experts.
Scientists have said that this type of infection occurs when contaminated water goes up in a person’s nose, which allows the deadly organism to invade the brain via olfactory nerves. It kills the brain tissue of the patients. The olfactory nerves are important for the sense of smell. Experts from the CDC have said that the infection does not occur by drinking contaminated water. The authors of the study have said that Naegleria Fowleri flourishes in up to 45 degrees Celsius warm water; therefore, the rising global temperature might have played a role in expanding the organism’s geographical area. Experts have analyzed warm water cases in the US, which have been linked to recreational water exposure such as swimming in lakes, ponds, pools, rivers, and reservoirs from 1978 to 2018. The findings of the study have been released in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Experts have been able to find out at least 85 cases, which have met the criteria of the study. These cases have been linked to recreational water experiences. During the period of the study, the number of cases per year has remained the same, which has been 0 to 6 per each year. Around 74 cases have been reported in southern states. However, nearly six cases have been identified in Midwestern states as well such as Minnesota, Kansas, and Indiana. Five out of six incidents in Midwestern states have appeared after 2010, said the experts. The team of experts has used a computer model to observe the trend in the utmost latitude of these incidents each year. They have seen that the maximum latitude has moved nearly 8.2 miles northward per year during the period of the study. Experts have looked at the weather data from around the date each case has surfaced. They have seen that on average daily temperatures in the two weeks resulting in each incident has been greater than the historical average for each site. The authors of the study have said that rising global temperature and subsequent increase in recreational water exposure might be contributing to the shifting epidemiology of PAM. Experts from the CDC has said that there is no rapid test available to detect Naegleria Fowleri in water. Therefore, avoiding swimming in warm freshwater is the only way to prevent this disease. People can also avoid water going up the nose while swimming to keep this deadly infection at bay.