The Weird Truth About Naegleria Fowleri, The Brain-Eating Amoeba

There is a lot to think about, unless of course, an amoeba eats your brain. While this scenario sounds impossible, the scary truth is it can happen to anybody at any time.

Enter N. fowleri, the tentacle-clad trophozoite that loves to feast on brains — human brains (via Discover Magazine). You can find this crafty parasite hanging around in stagnant bodies of water, waiting to enter through the nose of unsuspecting human prey (via CDC). Just one seemingly harmless gulp from a pond or swim in a freshwater lake could send a hiker spiraling into madness.

The best part? You can already host an amoeba and not know it. These warm-water-loving guys can hang out in the body as inactive cysts, waiting for the perfect time and conditions to infiltrate the brain (via WebMD). Once their victims start exhibiting symptoms, they die within a short window of time which is approximately 5.3 days long.

Once in the olfactory bulbs, N. fowleri grows a special brain-sucking mechanism

Discover Magazine reports that in a dormant state, the amoeba is resilient — able to survive extreme conditions in the host body  — but not yet deadly. However, if the parasite senses the host's habitat is ideal, it will then grow a special brain-sucking mechanism and begin its nasty work, drudging itself deep into the victims' olfactory bulbs and multiplying as it moves through tissue in the brain.

The victim will experience symptoms that are strikingly similar to those of the most recent strand of COVID-19. These include a loss of taste and smell among other flu-like symptoms. As the amoeba progresses, WebMD reports that its victim will eventually experience blurred vision, mind-bending hallucinations, seizures, and vomiting, before finally entering a comatose state. This series of events almost always ends in death. In the United States, only four of N. fowleri's victims survived, and at least one survivor incurred irreversible brain damage (via CNN Health).