So far this summer, three people have died from a waterborne brain-eating amoeba, including a nine-year-old kid in Virginia.
Wait. I live in Virginia. I am sometimes submerged in water. True, we have not gone tubing this summer or been in any type of outdoor body of water, but sometimes I get water up my nose when I take a bath. (Aaah, I love baths. I wish I were in one now. Laced with some Jo Malone bath oil. Preferably the jasmine mint.)
Uh, where was I? Oh yes. Potential untimely death. Which I tend to think about a lot. (Honestly, is there a “timely” death? I suppose if you live to be 110 then people will grudgingly concede, “Yep. That seems timely.”)
And don’t sit there and shake your head and say you can’t get a brain-eating amoeba from a bath. One of the three cases involved a Louisiana man who used tap water in his neti pot. For those not in the know, a neti pot is some device shaped like a teapot that folks (mostly hippies, in my experience) use to rinse out their noses with warm salt water. It’s supposed to relieve allergies, colds, other sinus problems. Sounds pretty gross to me. Hot water? Up your nose? And then snot does what? Just dribbles out with the water? No thanks. You know what also supposedly works on allergies? Prescription meds! Let’s give those a try first, shall we? Before putting items and amoebas up our noses?
This amoeba even has a sinister-sounding name. Naegleria fowleri. It’s “fowleri” all right.
Here’s a description of how it essentially, eats your brain.
“Like something out of a horror movie, the amoeba enters the human body through the nose, usually after a person has swum or dived into a warm body of fresh water, such as a pond, lake, river or hot spring.
It does not seek out humans. But when an amoeba gets lodged into a person’s nose, it starts looking for food. It ends up in the brain and starts eating neurons.
Early symptoms of infection include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and neck stiffness. Later symptoms progress to confusion, balance problems and seizures. Often, when cases are presented at the hospital, they’re mistaken for bacterial meningitis. Death usually occurs within a week of symptom onset.”
Holy Depends undergarments, I just crapped my pants. I need my brain neurons! But I fear it might be too late. I might have some variant of all these symptoms. I get headaches! My neck is feeling very stiff these days. I’m often confused…..wait, what was I saying? And I have balance problems!
“But before you panic, remember that infections with the amoeba, while tragic, are extremely uncommon. There are usually only two or three cases a year in the U.S.”
Oh, and THAT’S supposed to make me feel better is it? So the quota for the year is full, don’t worry Poe!?! Is that it?
And I loooove this part: “But before you panic….” IT’S TOO LATE! I’m in full panic mode right this minute!!
Maybe I should go take a nice relaxing bath.