American singer Beyonce Knowles-Carter, 35, was spotted leaping off the third deck of a yacht into the ocean off the coast of Italy.
This image of Beyonce carelessly leaping into warm water without holding her nose demonstrates how easily a deadly brain-eating parasite can enter the body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of Naegleria fowleri (brain-eating amoeba) are on the rise.
Just today, the AJC reported that a 4th case of amoeba infection has been identified by the Florida Department of Health.
Earlier this month, little Hannah Collins, of South Carolina, lost her battle with Naegleria fowleri after contracting the infection while swimming. Her father said she leaped into the water from a tree swing.
Nearly everyone who contracts the brain infection dies.
Naegleria fowleri is found in warm freshwater, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs.
Even though Naegleria fowleri is not found in salt water, such as the ocean, it is still a wise idea to hold your nose when leaping into water, because other bacteria may dwell in the ocean.
Naegleria fowleri enters the body through the nose and travels through the blood-brain barrier to infect the brain.
The blood-brain barrier is a network of tiny blood vessels designed to act like a filter to prevent bacteria from invading the brain.
Most bacteria and virus are too large to cross the blood-brain barrier into the brain.
But Naegleria fowleri enters the brain by eating its way in through the nose.
"They naturally feed on bacteria," said Dr. Jennifer Cope, a researcher at the CDC, "but when the single-celled microbes find themselves in the brain where there's no bacteria to feast on, they turn to consuming brain tissue even though it's not their preferred food."
Common symptoms of Naegleria fowleri include nausea, vomiting, fever, blinding headaches, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, confusion.
The CDC recommends holding your nose when jumping into warm water to prevent the bacteria from being forced up into your nose.
The CDC also recommends keeping your head above water when swimming, and avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature.
Although infection via use of Neti pots are rare, the CDC recommends using tap water that has been boiled for at least 1 minute and left to cool.
Antifungal medications have been used in the past without much success.
"One of the toughest things is getting the drug through the brain barrier and into the brain," Dr. Cope said.
This has been your Medical Minute.
More Info On the Web
How to Survive Brain-Eating Amoeba - Livescience.com