Giving Compass’ Take:
• Pacific Standard reports on infections with Naegleria fowleri, the so-called brain-eating amoeba. And although they are extremely rare, they are also extremely deadly.
• What are some other uncommon yet dangerous parasites? What can scientists learn from these organisms?
Composed of a single cell, amoeba seem harmless enough: They look like playful critters waltzing under the spotlight of a microscope until they come upon a group of bacteria. Then, these previously innocuous amoeba suddenly morph into sinister blobs, engulfing the bacteria and slowly ripping them apart with a bevy of digestive enzymes. It’s hard to cry over murdered bacteria, but the digestive power of amoeba is the stuff of nightmares when it plays out in a human brain.
Infections with Naegleria fowleri, the so-called brain-eating amoeba, are extremely rare, but also extremely deadly. Only 146 cases have been reported in the United States since 1962, with only four surviving the infection; so there is a 97 percent chance of death. Sadly, on July 22nd, a 59-year-old North Carolina man became the first person to die of the infection this year after swimming in a lake at a water park.
I study parasites and have a particular interest in those that target the brain, which is why this amoeba captured my interest.
Read the full article on Naegleria fowleri by Bill Sullivan at Pacific Standard.
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