Click on one of the titles below to view the full article.Amoebic Meningitis
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What is it?
It is an inflammation of the brain caused by a tiny single-celled organism (amoeba) that lives in fresh water. It can exist in soil as a cyst, but needs to be put in fresh water to become active again.
How do you get it?
You can get amoebic meningitis only if water containing amoebae is forced up the nose. The amoebae can make their way up the nerves to the brain.
Where do you get it?
From warm, still water: un-chlorinated or incorrectly chlorinated water; dams; waterholes, but not from sea water. Amoebae thrive in water temperatures above 26 degrees Celsius.
When do you get it?
It's a rare disease, but there is a chance you could get amoebic meningitis when a number of "ifs" happen at the one time.
- If amoebae are present in the water.
- If they get a chance to multiply.
- If water gets forced up your nose.
What you can do to prevent it.
- Swim or play in safe water only. Sea water is safe, and so are swimming pools in top condition (free of dirt and debris, and kept to a level of 2 parts per million chlorine in a stabilised pool.) Flowing streams and rivers have not been associated with the disease.
- Walk or lower yourself into the water. Jumping in is a risk. If you do jump, hold your nose.
- Stay out of "doubtful" water; dirty pools, waterholes and dams.
- Keep wading pools clean. Empty them daily. Scrub them out and let them dry in the sun.
- Leave hoses and sprinklers for gardens only. Playing with them increases the risk of water up the nose.
- Let bath and shower taps run for a few minutes to flush out water that may have been lying in the pipes, especially if the weather is warm and you've been away from home for more than a couple of days.