- Naegleria fowleri can cause a life-threatening brain infection if it enters through the nose.
- The amoeba lives in warm freshwater, mostly in the Southern states.
Naegleria fowleri is known as the brain-eating amoeba because it destroys healthy brain tissue. People can become infected if the amoeba enters them through the nose while they are swimming or diving, not through any other form of exposure to contaminated water.
The amoeba causes a life-threatening infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM. The infection is extremely rare, with 154 cases recorded in nearly 60 years of disease surveillance, but nearly everyone who has contracted it has died. SEE THE MAP