Florida was in the news earlier this month when a man died from a brain-eating amoeba infection in Charlotte
County. According to the news release
by the state Health Department in Charlotte County, the infection most
likely resulted from “sinus rinse practices utilizing tap water.” The release further stated that the infection,
caused by Naegleria fowleri, the brain-eating amoeba, “can only happen when water contaminated with amoebae
enters the body through the nose.”
This brain-eating amoeba Florida incident is an eye opener to the brain-eating amoeba and the devastating, or
sometimes lethal, effects its infection can have on human health. Therefore, this blog discusses the
brain-eating amoeba in relation to its existence in tap water. It also touches on the symptoms of the infection
and how to remove the amoeba from your drinking water effectively.
What Is A Brain-Eating Amoeba?
is an amoeba—a single-celled living organism that lives in soil and warm freshwater in the
United States, including hot springs, rivers, and lakes. It is called the “brain-eating amoeba” because it can
cause brain infections, usually occurring when water containing the amoeba finds its way into the human body.
Some ways the amoeba can enter the human body through the nose include swimming, diving, going under freshwater
like rivers and lakes, and rinsing the face or nose with infected tap water. While it exists throughout the year
as a thermophilic or heat-loving organism, it is more prevalent during the warmer months when the water
temperatures are hot.
The brain-eating amoeba infection is not spread from one person to another, so there are only a few cases each
year in the United States. Therefore, the risk of infection is also relatively low. However, people must assume
there is a risk of infection whenever they get into warm freshwater or engage in activities like swimming,
especially in Texas, Florida, and other southern states.
How Do You Know If The Brain-Eating Amoeba Exists in Your Tap Water?
While most brain-eating amoeba California infection cases have been associated with freshwater rivers and lakes,
tap or faucet water getting into the nose is also a rare cause of death from the infection. Also established is
the fact that this amoeba can grow in public and private water tanks and pipes. The chances are even higher when
there is little or no disinfectant like chloramine or chlorine in the picture.
Unfortunately, the amoeba is not visible to the naked eye. Therefore, you cannot detect the presence of the
brain-eating amoeba in your tap water by visual observation. There are also no rapid, standardized tests to
detect its presence. As a homeowner, the weakest infection link to N. fowleri is your municipal water coming
into your home as tap or faucet water. Once your municipal water is infected, the tap water in your home is also
infected and subsequently unfit for drinking, and other household uses.
You should always watch out for announcements and directives from the local health and environment authorities
on public water contamination. For example, a reported case of brain-eating amoeba contamination or infection
may force you to be without drinking water for days, weeks, or even months, depending on how long it takes to
decontaminate the body of water affected. Hence, it is always advisable to have another source of safe drinking
water asides from municipal tap water.
What Are the Symptoms of the Brain-Eating Amoeba?
Most scientific references consider brain-eating amoeba infection a rare condition, with an expected zero to
eight infections within a year. For most people, Naegleria fowleri will not survive in their body system because
they have the protozoan’s antibodies that can fight off the foreign body. However, for others who are not so
lucky, the amoeba will attack their body systems and compromise their health.
The infection comes with a wave of symptoms. But contrary to what the name suggests, the amoeba does not
literarily eat the brain. Instead, it attacks the brain aggressively, leaving it severely damaged. It may be
fatal in cases where there is an internal swelling of the brain. Some early-stage symptoms
nausea, fever, and severe frontal headache. Later-stage symptoms of brain-eating amoeba infection are more
severe: stiff neck, seizures, hallucinations, mental confusion, and coma.
The symptoms of brain-eating amoeba infection are not always immediate. In most cases, they take 1-12 days after
initial exposure to become visible, although casualties may occur after 3 to 7 days of the first symptoms.
Unfortunately, the survival rate is also low in the United States and the world.
How Do You Remove Brain-Eating Amoeba from Water?
The best way to combat the brain-eating amoeba is to avoid it. For example, not swimming or wading in warm
freshwater locations, not using tap water for neti pots, and not using untreated tap water as sinus rinses.
However, finding ways to remove the microorganism from your water source becomes imperative when these are
impossible. That is where water treatment and purification methods come in.
Purifying tap water using a suitable method will eliminate the brain-eating amoeba in it. Like other
microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and protozoans, found in water, specific water purification methods
will remove N. fowleri from your water. These include:
is the simplest water purification method. Just pour the contaminated water into a container, leave it
to a full, rolling boil, and continue boiling for another ten minutes. This kills all living organisms in water
by eliminating oxygen. However, boiling tap water only eliminates bacteria, but it does not eliminate harmful
substances like chlorine and heavy metals, such as lead. In fact, boiling tap water contaminated with lead can
increase the concentration of this contaminant, making it more dangerous than before.
Disinfection involves removing, killing, or inactivating the pathogenic microorganisms present in water using
. Physical disinfectants include heat, ultraviolet light, and electronic radiation, while chemical
disinfectants include chlorine, chlorine oxide, and ozone. Disinfecting water leaves the microorganisms inactive
and unable to grow, reproduce, or harm the consumer. Nevertheless, residual chlorine will leave an undesirable
Water filters are another efficient method of eliminating brain-eating amoeba in water. Most water filters are
designed to be effective against most contaminants in water, including microorganisms like bacteria, viruses,
and protozoans. They also reduce impurities like dirt, sediment, heavy metals, nitrates, and other chemicals in
The market has tons of water filters—all in different forms and sizes. Some are for household uses, while others
are for emergency and outdoor uses. The filtration principle each water filter adopts differs. If you’re looking
for a reliable solution to ensure clean drinking water, a reverse osmosis water filter system would be the
perfect choice due to its exceptional filtration capabilities. The reverse osmosis membrane has a pore size of
0.0001 micron, allowing only water molecules to pass through while preventing the passage of contaminants such
as organics and dissolved salts.
The Waterdrop RO system G3P800 is equipped with a LED lamp with lifespan as long as 50 years. The LED can be
automatically turned on when water flows by and has the sterilization rate of up to 99.9%. Click for Waterdrop
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- 800 GPD high capacity
- UV sterilizing light
- 3:1 pure to drain ratio
- NSF/ANSI 58 & 372 certified
- 9-stage filtration
- Smart faucet
- Tankless design
The outlook is very poor for anyone infected by Naegleria fowleri or the brain-eating amoeba. The chances of
survival are very low, even with treatment. Therefore, the best way to combat the situation is to avoid it.
However, in cases where your municipal or household water is infected with this deadly microorganism, you can
adopt suitable water purification methods to remove it and make your water fit for drinking and other domestic
If you exhibit fever or headache symptoms after playing in warm freshwater, please visit your healthcare