This Brain-Eating Amoeba Can Cause an Untreatable Form of Meningitis, Because Everything Is Awful

Brain-eating amoebas are spreading and that is just as bad as it sounds. It’s a dangerous epidemic — a fatal form of meningitis — that is currently occurring at increasing rates.

This summer, Fabrizio Stabile, a 29-year-old New Jersey man, died from this brain-eating amoeba, just one day after he was diagnosed, The man contracted the disease after swimming in a wave pool.

An amoeba is a single celled organism, with no defined shape. Many types of amoebas are able to exist within the human body without consequence. They are essentially benign. This particular brain-eating amoeba, however, known as Naegleria fowleri, is entirely malignant.

The amoeba itself is horrifying. Like something out of The Walking Dead, the amoeba multiples by feeding on nerve tissue. As this occurs, inflammation in the brain increases, as well as necrosis and internal bleeding. This is as bad as it sounds.

Naegleria fowleri has the ability to enter the human body through the nasal cavity. From there it can attach to olfactory nerves and then migrate into the brain. Once it enters the brain, the amoeba can cause meningitis. Meningitis is defined as an inflammation of the meninges, which are membranes that surround the brain and spinal column.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of meningitis include:

  • Sudden high fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Severe headache that seems different than normal
  • Headache with nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Seizures
  • Sleepiness or difficulty waking
  • Sensitivity to light
  • No appetite or thirst
  • Skin rash (sometimes, such as in meningococcal meningitis)

While most forms of meningitis are viral, other forms can be caused by fungus, amoebas and bacteria. Bacterial meningitis is highly fatal without proper and prompt medical treatment. It is often diagnosed with a spinal tap. Meningitis vaccines only protect against bacterial meningitis, meaning that many people are still susceptible to the inflammation of the meninges caused by those other viruses, fungi, parasites and amoebas.

While any form of meningitis can be deadly, this amoebic meningitis is extremely dangerous due to the fact that there is no clear treatment available. Antibiotics and antiviral medications do nothing to combat amoebic meningitis.

The Mayo Clinic notes that “millions of people are exposed to the amoeba that causes naegleria infection each year, but only a handful of them ever get sick from it.” It is unclear as to why some people develop this particular form of meningitis when exposed, while others do not.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, this particularly virulent form of meningitis progresses rapidly within the brain within a matter of 5 days. As it spreads, the patient will experience confusion, hallucinations and seizures as brain tissue is being eviscerated.

Amoebic meningitis is extremely fatal. 95% of individuals who develop the disease die, and only 27 cases have been diagnosed before the patient has died. It’s so fatal, that only a small handful of people have survived it.

Scarily, this disease is becoming more common due to climate change. The Naegleria fowleri amoeba thrives in climates with warmer waters, meaning more people will be exposed to this deadly brain-eating disease.

According to a 2017 review, amoebic meningitis “primarily occurs in previously healthy young males exposed to warm, recreational waters, predominantly in lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, in southern-tier states during the summer months. With climate data showing consistently warming temperatures, the reports of PAM [or amoebic meningitis] cases outside of the southern-tier states is cause for concern.”

PBS News Hour/YouTube

The White House Counsel is a staff appointee of the President and Vice President of the United States. Their role is to advise the President on all legal issues concerning the President and their administration.

Pat Cipollone has served as the current White House Counsel for President Donald Trump since December 2018.

Keep reading...
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

In the current political landscape of the United States, you'd be hard-pressed to find any issue that Americans on which both sides of the ideological spectrum agree.

But it turns out that even on an issue as divisive as the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Republicans and Democrats agree on something.

Keep reading...
ABC News

President Donald Trump's impeachment trial began in earnest in the Senate on Tuesday afternoon.

Shortly after House impeachment manager, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), laid out the evidence against the President unveiled by House Democrats, one of Trump's defense attorneys—Jay Sekulow—asked a question in his rebuttal.

Keep reading...
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Things are heating up in the Senate as the long-awaited Senate trial in the impeachment of President Donald Trump is set to begin on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will officially propose a resolution that will set the rules for the trial. He released the proposed rules Monday afternoon.

Keep reading...
Drew Angerer/Getty Images // Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

To commemorate the life and legacy of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the holiday named after him, many lawmakers participated by volunteering in their communities as a day of service.

President Donald Trump was not one of those people.

Keep reading...

As millions of Americans commemorated the legacy of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., presidential counsellor Kellyanne Conway railed against the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, set to begin in the Senate on Tuesday.

The President, who leaves for the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday night, has no public plans to commemorate Martin Luther King Day, prompting reporters to ask Kellyanne how he intended to celebrate.

Keep reading...