Kate Cline is editor-in-chief of WQP. Cline can be reached at [email protected] or 847.391.1007.
If you were hoping for a blog on the Loch Ness Monster or maybe some B-movie from the ‘50s after reading that title, you may be disappointed. The creature I am talking about is, unfortunately, not a large mythical monster – it is the microscopic parasite Naegleria fowleri, better known as the “brain-eating amoeba.”
Naegleria fowleri is most often found in warm freshwater bodies such as lakes and rivers, but it made the national news last year after it was found to be present in two public drinking water systems in Louisiana. The amoeba causes a disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, which affects the central nervous systems and is almost always fatal – according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, only three of the 132 people infected with the disease in the U.S. between 1962 and 2013 have survived.
It is important to note that even if Naegleria fowleri makes it into a public water supply, it is not possible to become infected by drinking the contaminated water. Infection only occurs if contaminated water goes up into the nose – submerging one’s head while swimming or using devices like neti pots to clean out sinuses have been cited as resulting in infection.
Have you customers expressed concern about Naegleria fowleri? Let us know in the comments, or e-mail us at [email protected]