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  1. #1
    213th's Avatar
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    Brain-eating amoeba claims 6th victim

    PHOENIX It seemed like a headache, nothing more. But when pain killers and a trip to the emergency room didn't fix Aaron Evans, the 14-year-old asked his dad if he was going to die.
    "No, no," David Evans remembers saying. "We didn't know. And here I am: I come home and I'm burying him."
    What was bothering Aaron was an amoeba, a microscopic organism called Naegleria fowleri that attacks the body through the nasal cavity, quickly eating its way to the brain. The doctors said he probably picked it up a week before while swimming in the balmy shallows of Lake Havasu.
    Such attacks are extremely rare, though some health officials have put their communities on high alert, telling people to stay away from warm, standing water.
    "This is definitely something we need to track," said Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational water-born illnesses for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    "This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better," Beach said. "In future decades, as temperatures rise, we'd expect to see more cases."
    According to the CDC, Naegleria infected 23 people from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials say they've noticed a spike in cases, with six Naegleria-related cases so far all of them fatal.
    Though infections tend to be found in southern states, Naegleria has been found almost everywhere in lakes, hot springs, even some swimming pools. Still, the CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.
    The amoeba typically live in lake bottoms, grazing off algae and bacteria in the sediment. Beach said people become infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom. If someone allows water to shoot up the nose say, by doing a cannonball off a cliff the amoeba can latch onto the person's olfactory nerve.
    The amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up to the brain.
    People who are infected tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers, Beach said. In the later stages, they'll show signs of brain damage such as hallucinations and behavioral changes.
    Once infected, most people have little chance of survival. Some drugs have been effective stopping the amoeba in lab experiments, but people who have been attacked rarely survive, Beach said.
    "Usually, from initial exposure it's fatal within two weeks," Beach said.
    Researchers still have much to learn about Naegleria, Beach said. For example, it seems that children are more likely to get infected, and boys are infected more often than girls. Experts don't know why.
    "Boys tend to have more boisterous activities [in water], but we're not clear," he said.
    In addition to the Arizona case, health officials reported two cases in Texas and three more in central Florida this year. In response, central Florida authorities started an amoeba telephone hot line advising people to avoid warm, standing water, or any areas with obvious algae blooms.
    Texas health officials also have issued news releases about the dangers of amoeba attacks and to be cautious around water. People "seem to think that everything can be made safe, including any river, any creek, but that's just not the case," said Doug McBride, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
    Lake Havasu City officials also are discussing how to deal with rare amoeba attacks in the wake of Aaron Evans' death. "Some folks think we should be putting up signs. Some people think we should close the lake," city spokesman Charlie Cassens said. City leaders haven't yet decided what to do.
    Beach warned that people shouldn't panic about the dangers of brain-eating amoeba. Infections are extremely rare when compared with the number of times a year people come into contact with water. And there have been occasional years during the past two decades that experts noticed a similar spike in infections.
    The easiest way to prevent infection, Beach said, is to simply plug your nose when swimming or diving in fresh water.
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  2. #2
    lewisipso's Avatar
    lewisipso is offline Injustice/Indifference/In God we trust
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    Well damn if you don't learn something new everyday. Wow.
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  3. #3
    Trojan 42's Avatar
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    It eats brains??? Oh well, it'll die out in the USA soon then.
    To be born an Englishman, is to be a winner in the Lottery of Life.



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  4. #4
    213th's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trojan 42 View Post
    It eats brains??? Oh well, it'll die out in the USA soon then.
    True....true. But atleast you english types won't have to worry about it ever being a problem over there
    He who has the money, signs the cheques.
    He who signs the cheques, makes the rules.
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    He who has the power, has the money.

  5. #5
    Trojan 42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 213th View Post
    True....true. But atleast you English types won't have to worry about it ever being a problem over there

    Well obviously not. It breeds in warm water so we'll be fine. But thanks for worrying.
    To be born an Englishman, is to be a winner in the Lottery of Life.



    I've Talked the Talk and I've Walked the Walk, now I Sit the Sit!

    It's not until you look at an Ant through a magnifying glass on a sunny day, that you realise just how often they burst into flames for no reason!

  6. #6
    BEB
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    Sad. Definitely something to be aware of, but yet another sensationalized story. Brain eating amoeba join forces with global warming to kill us all! Give me a break.

    Six deaths are tragic, but in this couch potato nation you have to wonder what the overall impact on health is if fearful parents and lazy kids have yet another excuse to leave Jr glued to the X-box. What gets me is the cavalier "even some swimming pools." in the story. The CDC's phrasing is carefully worded, but the point comes through.

    Can I get Naegleria infection from a swimming pool?

    No. You cannot get Naegleria infection from a swimming pool as long as the pool is properly cleaned, maintained, and chlorinated.


    I've met people who live in constant fear of West Nile and have completely changed their summer habits because of it. They tell me you can never be too cautious. I say you can, but mostly I hope this doesn't become the next "too dangerous to go outside" story. Swimming in the pond may not be the cleanest thing ever, but the vast majority of the time you just get dirty. Beyond fun, its great exercise and you might even have a story to tell after.

  7. #7
    jmur5074's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trojan 42 View Post
    It breeds in warm water so we'll be fine.
    Which is why I'm staying in MN, where I can walk on the water.
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  8. #8
    Cidp24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 213th View Post
    PHOENIX It seemed like a headache, ... "In future decades, as temperatures rise, we'd expect to see more cases."...
    More global warming rhetoric?
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  9. #9
    Virginian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmur5074 View Post
    Which is why I'm staying in MN, where I can walk on the water.
    I heard you'd be back! Sorry I haven't gone to church in a while, I've been pretty busy. No disrespect to you or your Father of course.

 

 

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