There are brain-eating amoebas in our rivers, lakes, and mud puddles. They’re also in our swimming pools and municipal drinking water.
One errant splash of infected water up your nose is all it takes. The brain-eating amoeba will multiply, eat through your nasal tissue, up your brain stem, and devour your brain with a sporting 98% fatality rate.
The irony: after 3 to 14 days of blissful all-you-can-eat brain buffet, the Hannibalesque amoeba starves to death in its own zombie wasteland, trapped in a bony, tasteless cranium.
If your child gets splashed in the face this summer, you’ll know she’s safe if she doesn’t turn into a zombie within 15 days. Waiting to see what happens is about the extent of our ability to diagnose and treat this hungry, hungry amoeba that can polish off the sum total of your grey matter in as little as 3 days.
What is almost as dubious as these single-celled pigs that see a brain as breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is our scientific approach.
To think that most of us have never had one of these Naegleria fowleri land in our nose is folly. These amoebas are about five times thinner than a human hair, and they’re everywhere. They’ve been chomping bacteria for several billion years and our benelles found a path of coexistence some millions of years ago.
Your forefathers were splashed up the nose and yet you are here. Just as with the 99 percent of the population who are immune to Mad Cow prions, the likelihood is most of us possess antibodies for these brain-eating amoebas. They were here first, after all.
Ok, here’s where this zombie story is leading. Developing some expensive new drug that can be used to pump across the blood-brain barrier into infected people’s brains, leaving brain tissue damaged from the drug at best, would not be as smart as isolating the genetic sequence or antibody that confers natural immunity against Naegleria fowleri.
Current literature says there is no treatment for an infected person but, in my opinion, a round of IVIG stands a chance of “coaching up” an infected person’s benelles in time to save them. Certainly IVIG’s dynamism would be more effective than a static, one-trick prescription chemical. A static defense against an amoeba is like hiding under blankets against monsters.
What would help the public would be a blood test to confirm a child’s benelles already have immunity. Then the kid could snort public waters all summer long. Governments and parents could relax, which is good for health.
The same logic applies to the brain-destroying West Nile virus. Parents and health agencies should administer a cheap test to see if kids already have the West Nile antibody. You have the antibody, who cares if you play at dusk?
Expect brain-eating amoebas to make the news more often in coming years for a couple reasons. Marketing pressure to “feed” our lawns has fertilizer running off into our water systems at heretofore unseen levels. In water, fertilizer feeds bacteria that feeds amoebas. Also, as global warming increases and amoebas expand to the north, more children are being exposed.
By ultra-purifying our drinking water, many of us are probably not ingesting enough amoebas to safely build the antibodies in our guts which would protect our sinuses and brains. In the old days, kids ate dirt with these amoebas and who-knows-what-else and developed immunity.
In a way, our medical approach is as short-sighted as the brain-eating amoebas’. We’re in a unilateral arms race to develop toxic pharmaceuticals against amoebas celebrating their 3 billionth birthday. Our big brains are ignoring the natural order of the universe.
And here’s a new theory for testing: it’s not as much overly-warm water that’s causing human outbreaks of this amoeba. August is a hotter month than September but it seems like September has more outbreaks of the amoeba. This is probably for one of two reasons: the pollen that falls onto waters at season change feed the bacteria that feed the amoebas. Or, the same pollen causes sinus drainage in humans which, in turn, creates a good neighborhood for bacteria and amoebas in our noses.
We need better research on what our benelles are already doing so successfully before we panic and pump them full of pharma toxins that will deform their abilities and powers. Although benelles know more than our doctors, our fear of rare amoebas and savage diseases leads to irrational consumption of Wizard of Oz pharmaceuticals with static, spurious studies behind the curtain. The harm we put on our benelles becomes the welcome mat for cancer and disease.