When I was a kid I had a lot of irrational fears. My dad cured me of my fear of accidental poisoning by taking a bite of whatever I was afraid of and then, clutching at his neck and gagging, pretending to die a violent death. I once asked a psychiatrist-friend if this seemed like a reasonable way to treat a child phobia, and he said, “Well, did it work?”

By the way, I got my irrational fear of food-poisoning from my mom, who was constantly asking… “Do you think this ____ has been in the fridge too long? Should we eat it?”

I got over most of these fears as I got older, and I now blithely eat four-day-old pasta, but there are things that still freak me out. Like Hanta virus. Back when my brother lived in New Mexico, this new disease was discovered in the Southwest that you could get by breathing mouse poop. I swore off garage cleaning for good. Actually, the Southwest is a particularly scary place when you consider they also have the Bubonic Plague!

So, today, I was reading Boing Boing as a warm-up to getting to work editing my manuscript when I came across this post:

Six Die from Brain-eating Amoeba in Lakes

Apparently this scary phenomenon has been around for a couple of decades but has only killed about 20 people. In the last year, the death toll was 6. Ick. It recommends swimming in lakes with nose plugs because the only way to get the disease is by getting the amoeba in your nose. I seriously hope someone can come up with a better solution. Oh, and by the way. Where is this most common? Florida, and the SOUTHWEST.

Brain-eating Amoeba

8 thoughts on “Brain-eating Amoeba

  • September 30, 2007 at 11:52 am
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    I read that yesterday and freaked out, of course. I grew up swimming in cedar lakes and there are a few around here and I always talk about “doing the lake thing” with Elena, but my husband is always “ew, that cedar water looks so gross”. I attributed it to him not having those sorts of lakes in New England and the fact that each time you wear anything with any white into the lake, it stains it permanently a light tan-well now it seems the article has made me have second thoughts about lake swimming in general.

  • September 30, 2007 at 1:50 pm
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    Yeah, when I lived in New Mexico, I once took a dip (only neck deep) in a hot springs where there was a sign about the brain eating amoeba. It said something like, “Don’t dunk your head in the water because an amoeba will go up your nose and eat your brain.”

    Somehow I managed to survive six years of living in New Mexico, nevertheless, and I’d even like to go back there to visit!

  • September 30, 2007 at 1:51 pm
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    BTW, the virus that causes hantavirus is called, I kid you not, Sin Nombre virus.

  • September 30, 2007 at 7:53 pm
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    Love the title of the article and the sign by the lake. Almost hard to take it seriously.

    I had food poisoning enough (very memorable) times when I was kid that even 4 days old would be too many for me. My husband is always asking “what happend to the ____?”. I threw it out.

  • October 1, 2007 at 6:53 am
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    obviously you haven’t seen the recent reports of DENGUE FEVER coming this way from Central America- and guess where it will go first… YES! the Southwest.
    Sweet Dreams….Rebecca

  • October 1, 2007 at 4:36 pm
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    I read that article and then went to bed to watch Super Animals on the Science Channel. This particular episode was about – Super Jellyfish. Apparently, there are some in Australia that kill. After a lifetime of being sure that I would die a horrific Jaws-like death if I ever swam more than knee deep in the ocean, I’m never, ever swimming again in anything nature-fed.

  • October 3, 2007 at 2:45 pm
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    oh-oh. This is information that I did not need. I already think that public water is full of cooties. Have you ever checked out Giant Microbes? At least they make everything that you could fear in a lovable form….

  • October 9, 2007 at 11:21 am
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    And people wonder why I refuse to live south of the Mason-Dixon line… I’ll take my chances with the bears, wolves and moose any day!

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