Naegleria Fowleri Essay

2349 words - 9 pages

The microbe Naegleria fowleri, commonly called the brain-eating-amoeba, was first identified from a fatal case of primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) in Australia in 1961. In 1965, three further cases of fatal PAM were found, from which clinical and laboratory investigations pointed to a relation with acute bacterial meningitis among the cases of an unknown etiology. According to Fowler & Carter (1965), when post-death examinations of the bodies were performed researchers found that “microscopically the meningeal exudate consisted of about equal proportions of neutrophil leukocytes and chronic inflammatory cells, amongst which small, often degenerate amoebae were sparsely distributed” (p.740). The species of the organism that caused the amoeboflagellate related disease was later named Naegleria fowleri after one of the primary authors of the report, M. Fowler. Butt reports that the first case of PAM in the United States occurred in Florida in 1962 and a further retrospective study reported by dos Santos Netos suggested that additional identified cases of PAM in Virginia may have dated as far back as 1937 (as cited in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013, Pathogen). As research on the microbe ensues, more cases of PAM are beginning to surface and the search for a cure to the fatal infection is imperative.
The life cycle of Naegleria fowleri includes three different stages: amoeboid trophozoites, flagellates, and cysts; due to the transitory nature of the microbe and the specific forms that it can take, it is frequently referred to as an amoeboflagellate. Despite its abilities to take on various forms, the amoeboid trophozoite is the only infective stage of the microbe and it requires favorable environmental conditions to remain active, causing the rarity of an infection by its pathogenic form. In the trophozoite stage, the organism is ten to 35 micrometers in size, containing a single nucleus that houses a large karysosome with visible vacuoles in the cytoplasm (Leboffe & Pierce, 2011, p.194). This form of the organism can be found in the cerebrospinal fluid and brain tissue of patients with PAM infections. The trophozoite requires a diet of gram-negative bacteria and allows the organism to reproduce through binary fission. As the trophozoite, the amoeboflagellate “moves rapidly by producing hemispherical bulges, lobopodia, at the anterior end and exhibits active sinusoid/limacine locomotion” (Visvesvara, Moura & Schuster, 2007, p.16). This unique movement helps the pathogenic form of the microbe infect host organisms; however, like other transitory microbes, the trophozoite stage of the Naegleria Fowleri life-cycle requires proper environmental conditions to remain operative.
Favorable environmental demands for the Naegleria fowleri cannot consistently be guaranteed, in these circumstances, the microbe will turn to the alternative stages of its life cycle. When the food sources of the species are diminished and ionic...

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