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Naegleria fowleri Infection
(Brain-Eating Amoeba Infection) (cont.)

What are symptoms and signs of a Naegleria fowleri infection?

After entering the nose, the amoeba travels into the brain along the olfactory nerve and through membranes to enter the brain. Once in the brain, it causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (meaning inflammation of the brain and the lining around the brain), sometimes abbreviated as PAM.

After exposure to the offending water source, there is generally a two-stage illness. A person infected with Naegleria fowleri will usually develop stage 1 symptoms within two to seven days of exposure.

Stage 1 signs and symptoms include

  • severe frontal headache,
  • fever,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting.

Stage 2 usually begins one to 12 days after stage 1 and may include

  • stiff neck,
  • seizures,
  • altered mental status,
  • hallucinations,
  • coma.

The infection progresses so quickly that many people are not diagnosed until after death.

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