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Yes, Brain Eating Amoebas Are Real

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water splashing onto hand

Photo: Katrinphoto (Shutterstock)

Recently, a boy in Texas died of an infection with what headlines are calling a “brain-eating amoeba.” Unlike other catchy nicknames for little-known life forms (remember murder hornets?), this one accurately describes the organism in question. It’s an amoeba, and in rare cases it does actually feed on human brain tissue.

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What actually causes this infection?

Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba, a single-celled creature that’s bigger than a virus or a bacterium, but still microscopic. N. fowleri lives in warm water, so you might find it in hot springs or summertime lakes in warm parts of the world. Its usual food is probably other microscopic creatures like bacteria, but it’s also able to feed on human brain tissue.

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How does it get into your brain?

We don’t have to worry about swallowing N. fowleri—our stomachs would digest it. It’s also not transmitted by surfaces or coughs. No, it seems to require that water containing the amoeba go directly up our nose.

This is why it’s so rare, because how often do you put warm water up your nose? Most cases of N. fowleri infection can be traced to swimming or splashing in warm water; but if you use a neti pot to rinse the inside of your nose, follow the CDC’s recommendations to boil or filter the water, or purchase distilled water, to be sure it’s amoeba-free.

How does it kill you?

Once the amoeba makes it up your nose, it finds the nerves that connect your pharynx to your brain and begins to feed on the olfactory bulbs, a part of your brain that is involved in smelling. Often, a loss of smell and taste is one of the first signs of infection.

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From the olfactory bulbs, it proceeds to the rest of the brain where it can be deadly.

Once your immune system notices that your brain is being eaten, it sends immune cells and cranks up the inflammation response. Your brain is being eaten, and it’s also being attacked by your own immune system. (Inflammation is the immune system trying to help, but there can also be collateral damage. The result is a condition called primary amoebic encephalitis, or PAM.

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Most known cases of PAM have been fatal, but there are some experimental treatments that seem to have been successful.

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Is it coming for me next?

The good news about N. fowleri infection is that it’s very rare. There have only been 145 reported cases in the US since the 1960s. In some years, there are zero; in others, just a few.

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Because it prefers warm water, cases are more common in warm parts of the US, like Texas and Florida. Most of the northern half of the US hasn’t recorded any cases at all.

In everyday life, there’s no specific thing to do to prevent it. When somebody contracts the amoeba from a swimming hole or splash pad, usually there were thousands of people who swam there with no ill effects. We don’t know why some people are susceptible, and according to the CDC we don’t have a reliable way of testing water to say whether it’s safe or not.

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The best thing you can do is to reassure yourself that it’s rare, and make sure that you’re following safety guidelines if you’re intentionally putting water up your nose.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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