All the sources I've read said that Naegleria fowleri enters the brain through the nose. But lets say that someone had cuts on their arm or leg and they are swimming in water that is conducive to Naegleria fowleri growth. Could it enter the cut into the bloodstream and then into the brain or cause some other type of damage if it enters the bloodstream?


1 Answer 1


No, Naegleria fowleri is a free-living excavate form of protist that lives in warm fresh water. Fowleri finds its way into the brain by eating through the olfactory neurons in the nose where it multiplies itself greatly by feeding on nerve tissue.

Once it penetrates the nervous tissue, fowleri's feeding results in significant necrosis of and hemorrhaging in the olfactory bulbs. The protist then climbs along nerve fibers through the floor of the cranium via the cribriform plate and into the brain.

Since the protist travels by feeding on nervous tissue, fowleri could not enter the brain via bloodstream.

Just some more facts about Naegleria:

  • Death usually occurs within 14 days of exposure due to destruction the autonomic nerve cells of the medulla oblongata.
  • Luckily for everyone this disease is rare. There were only 300 cases as of 2008
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe the blood-brain barrier would also deter the fowleri from entering the brain. Could the fowleri thrive in the bloodstream? $\endgroup$
    – user701510
    Jan 27, 2012 at 4:49
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a drug treatment for this protist? $\endgroup$
    – user560
    Mar 23, 2012 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ I know antibiotics would not help. But that is never a concern since it is rarely (if not ever) identified in time to save a life. $\endgroup$ Aug 22, 2012 at 15:48

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