Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis and the Naegleria fowleri Freshwater Amoeba: A New Concern for Northern Climates


  • Karen Towne Department of Nursing, University of Mount Union; Jonas Scholar 2021-2023; School of Nursing, University of Kansas
  • Barbara Polivka School of Nursing, University of Kansas



Naegleria fowleri (N fowleri), the freshwater amoeba known to cause primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), is historically found in the southern United States and Central America. Increased incidence of this rare, deadly, and often misdiagnosed illness in northern states causes concern that N fowleri is expanding northward due to climate change, posing a greater threat to human health in new regions where PAM has not yet been documented. This case study provides an example of public health nurses incorporating environmental health data into communicable disease investigations, demonstrating how public health professionals, health care providers, and individuals living in northern climates can work together to prevent, detect, and treat N fowleri infection.






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