Understand how climate change affects the spread of a brain-eating amoeba | organic matter

The rare but deadly, Naegleria fowleri – better known as the brain-eating amoeba – made headlines this year after the death of a child in the state of Nebraska. This type of amoeba, which lives in warm and cold water, is a problem because it can enter the body through the nose, where it goes to the brain and begins to destroy the meat. And with climate change, it should become normal. In this report, we explain the reasons for this growing threat.

The condition causes a disease called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, which is fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 4 out of 151 people who were infected survived the disease between 1962 and 2020. The new case recorded in the United States draws attention to a Concerns: Climate change is causing the amoeba to appear in areas of the US where it is not common, such as the north and west of the country.

Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, told the Guardian Naegleria fowleri usually grows in waters with a temperature of 30ºC and prefers warm waters in summer in northern latitudes.

Warm temperatures are not easy for the life and growth of pathogens, however Naegleria fowleri but they encourage more people to dive into the water to cool off, which can exacerbate the problem, said Yun Shen, an environmental engineer at the University of California, Riverside.

The disease has been linked to swimming in pools, although an incident in Arizona was traced to the use of warm water where Naegleria grows in a well.

In addition, climate change is becoming more frequent and intense, which can introduce more pathogens into the environment. “In dry areas, pathogens will be concentrated in water bodies, which can increase exposure rates when people are in close proximity,” Shen said. In flooded areas, water can transfer pathogens through the environment, such as bringing them from the ecosystems in buildings and structures, or causing the accumulation wastewater and expel pathogens into the environment.

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