Naegleria Infection (cont.)

What should I do if I have been swimming or playing in freshwater and now think I have symptoms associated with Naegleria fowleri?

Infection with Naegleria fowleri is very rare. The early symptoms of Naegleria fowleri infection are more likely to be caused by other more common illnesses, such as meningitis. People should seek medical care immediately whenever they develop a sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, and vomiting, particularly if they have been in warm freshwater recently.

How common is Naegleria fowleri in the environment?

Naegleria fowleri is commonly found in lakes in southern-tier states during the summer. This means that recreational water users should be aware that there will always be a low level risk of infection when entering these waters. In very rare instances, Naegleria has been identified in water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated tap water <47°C).

Is there a routine and rapid test for Naegleria fowleri in the water?

No. It can take weeks to identify the ameba, but new detection tests are under development. Previous water testing has shown that Naegleria fowleri is very common in freshwater venues. Therefore, recreational water users should assume that there is a low level of risk when entering all warm freshwater, particularly in southern-tier states.

How does the risk of Naegleria fowleri infection compare with other water-related risks? ?

The risk of Naegleria fowleri infection is very low. There have been 32 reported infections in the U.S. in the 10 years from 2001 to 2010, despite millions of recreational water exposures each year. By comparison, in the ten years from 1996 to 2005, there were over 36,000 drowning deaths in the U.S.

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