The Brain Eating Amoeba
May 4, 2010
Microorganisms surround us by the trillions and though few are pathogenic, those that are can adversely affect anyone who comes in contact them, sometimes to the point of death. Few deaths are as terrifying as the one endured when the parasitic amoeba known as _Naegleria fowleri_ finds its way inside your body and into your brain to feast and multiply. Discovered in Australia in the 1960s, _N. fowleri_ has been found to be endemic to many parts of the globe, yet the disease caused by this pesky amorphous blob is extremely rare. Naegleria fowleri is a eukaryotic amoebo-flagellate which has three different life stages that can be differentiated into at anytime the conditions warrant. The term amoebo-flagellate is applied to describe two of the three life stages that the N. fowleri can morph into; one stage being an amorphous amoeba and the other being a dual flagellate organism with flagella at one pole. (11) These are the only stages the microorganism is motile. The third available life stage is a dormant cyst form of the organism that is only utilized when temperatures or other environmental conditions are no longer ideal for survival. N. fowleri reproduces by the process of binary fission. (12) In this process the single celled amoeba divides itself into two genetically identical daughter cells that develop into adult amoeba cells. Reproduction will only take place when N. fowleri is in its amebic form. N. fowleri is a thermophillic microorganism found throughout the world in warm climates in both soil and fresh water.(8) Studies have shown that the amoeba is most likely to be found in the shallow area of lakes and slow moving bodies of water. A pathogenic free-living amoeba, N. fowleri is a disease-causing agent that lives on its own. (12 arrangement?) It has been discovered that Naegleria fowleri is an aero tolerant anaerobe, which means that it is not affected by...
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