USAToday: Brain Eating Amoeba Among Climate Fueled Diseases

December 5, 2013

More Brain, please. Thanks Climate Deniers!

USAToday has published a series of articles on Diseases that are on the move due to climate change.  Regular readers here will already know about the Brain Eating Amoeba.

Deadly Parasite Moves North:

Bridget Bahneman lost her daughter to an illness that wasn’t supposed to exist as far north as Minnesota. Seven-year-old Annie’s brain was destroyed by an amoeba called Naegleria fowlerithat she was exposed to while swimming in a lake near their house.

Brain tissue was attacked by Naegleria fowleri, also called “the brain-eating amoeba.” When the amoeba infects the brain or spinal cord, it can cause meningitis.(Photo: George R. Healy, CDC)

The “brain-eating amoeba” lives in fresh water and proliferates when temperatures reach the 80s. It infects people by entering the nose and reaching the brain.

It can’t be transmitted by drinking infected water, only when it is pushed far up into the nose, often but not always from diving or wake boarding, says Jeremy Lewis of Arlington, Texas. He and his wife, Julie, founded Kyle Cares Amoeba Awareness, a non-profit organization, after they lost their son Kyle to the disease in 2010.

The water in Minnesota had been too cold for Naegleria to thrive. But August 2010 was the third-warmest in Minneapolis since 1891. A summer heat wave unlike any Bahneman remembered warmed lakes and sent her husband and kids out swimming near their home in Stillwater, Minn.

Diseases On the Move Due to Climate Change:

The fungus Coccidioides can cause Valley Fever in humans and many other mammals.(Photo: Lucille K. Georg, CDC)

Valley Fever is one of multiple diseases experts say are spreading in part because of climate change. They include a brain-eating amoeba showing up in northern lakes that were once too cold to harbor it and several illnesses carried by ticks whose range is increasing. USA TODAY is looking at the spread of these illnesses as part of a year-long series that explores the places and ways in which climate change affects us.

Chavez’s diagnosis led him to the office of George Thompson, an infectious disease specialist who devotes two clinics a week to Valley Fever patients at the University of California-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

Almost fully recovered, Chavez still has occasional headaches and bouts of confusion caused by the fungus that invaded his body. In the clinic, Thompson inspected Chavez’s hands, knees and ankles. “We worry about your joints with cocci,” he said, calling the disease by the short form of its medical name, coccidioidomycosis [cock-sih-dee-oy-doh-my-CO-sis.]

Valley Fever is an illness that’s moving. Historically, it has been found in the dry areas of California and the Southwest. But Thompson, along with the CDC, reported three cases of cocci in eastern Washington state in 2012.

The black-legged tick transmits Lyme disease to humans during feeding.(Photo: Michael L. Levin, CDC)

Blood Sucking Maniacs:

Another shift is tick season in the Midwest, which is starting earlier and ending later. This year seems to be one of the worst, says Mary Anne Jackson, director of the infectious disease division at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. Ticks carry multiple diseases, but ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are the ones she sees most.

Ehrlichiosis is a bacterial disease often called “summer flu” by doctors. “Now it can occur any time of year,” Jackson says. “I’ve been here since 1984, and this feels like one of the biggest tick years we’ve had, with the most children we’ve had admitted to the hospital.”

Three trends contribute to the nation’s changing disease map, experts say. The first is overall warming, which makes new areas hospitable to the animals and bugs that can carry disease. The second involves increased extreme weather events such as drought, rainstorms and flooding, which create situations where diseases and insects that carry them can flourish. Finally, Americans are increasingly moving to areas close to wilderness, where they are more exposed to these disease-carrying creatures.

It’s impossible to say what specifically causes any single illness. But the overall patterns are clear: Where and when certain diseases strike is changing, and those changes are being affected by the warming, increasingly erratic climate.

One striking example is the movement of the black-legged tick. People in the Northeast got used to doing tick-checks of themselves and their children in the 1970s as word spread that ticks carried Lyme disease. These unpleasant bloodsucking parasites are spreading north, south and west, says Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist and Lyme expert at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y.

 

26 Responses to “USAToday: Brain Eating Amoeba Among Climate Fueled Diseases”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    An excellent post—builds nicely on the previous one about brain-eating amoebas.

    We place much emphasis on the physics of AGW, and perhaps rightly so, since the physics is at the root of the problem. However, some of the best evidence for AGW is biological, and there is much of it—-we should be examining it more closely.

    People can argue endlessly about the data regarding GHG, rising temperature, solar cycles, NINO’s and ENSO’s etc. However, it’s pretty hard to argue with what the changes we see in the biosphere portend—the birds and bees and bugs and trees and fish and frogs ARE speaking to us! Sixth Mass Extinction, anyone? (And the first of the six that appears to be caused by man’s presence on the planet?)

    (BUT—-be thankful for little things! There has been NO acceleration in the rate of sea level rise).

  2. Michael Soso Says:

    “(BUT—-be thankful for little things! There has been NO acceleration in the rate of sea level rise).”
    Could the lack of acceleration result from the melting of ice occurring at a threshold? Possibly, the acceleration is yet to come.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      see also today’s new video

      • dumboldguy Says:

        An excellent video, Peter. We now have yet another hockey stick to beat the “hockey pucks” (deniers) over the head with. Can Dave refute any of it? If he tries, who should we believe more? Dave the computer engineer or all these folks who have expertise in climate science?

        • greenman3610 Says:

          Dave is, of course, free to submit his revolutionary, paradigm shifting theories to any journal, and wait for his Nobel.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Go talk to our resident “science advisor” (daveburton) about all things sea-level related. He will look in his Heartland Institute funded Denialist’s Manual and regale you with much illogical, confusing, and misleading information. Bring a lunch, though, because Dave WILL try to bury you and the truth with huge volumes of horsepucky.

      Making a statement like “Could the lack of acceleration result from the melting of ice occurring at a threshold? Possibly, the acceleration is yet to come?” will surely set him off. Dave hangs his way-too-tight hat on the argument that there are no “thresholds”, sea level rise acceleration will not occur in the future because it hasn’t occurred in the recent past (except that it has)..


    • Off topic. Go to the more recent climatecrock article on sea level. I have a comment there. Is anybody else feel spooked by the appearance of the amoeba like a face? It is well established by now that insects have spread north and devastated woodlands. Likewise, insect born diseases will spread north also. Mosquitos, ticks, and other carriers will spread disease.

  3. daveburton Says:

    The notion that Naegleria Fowleri is moving north due to global warming is about as well-supported as the imaginary AGW / extreme weather connection. It is junk science.

    Naegleria Fowleri infections are rare, just an average of 2-3 cases per year in the USA. There’s still a lot of mystery associated with it. We have no idea how it gets into a body of water, but we definitely know that it doesn’t appear in formerly cold lakes by spontaneous generation when the weather turns warm.

    I first heard about N. Fowleri in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until 2011 that we discovered, to everyone’s surprise, that it can survive in chlorinated public water supplies, and infect & kill users of neti pots who do nasal cleansing with unboiled tap water.

    Annie Bahneman was infected in August, 2010. That was a warm summer in MN, but not unprecedentedly so. It was the 6th warmest August on record. The warmest was 1900.

    More to the point, the warm summer didn’t create the N. Fowleri in Lily Lake. It was presumably already there. We just didn’t know about it until Annie’s infection.

    Unfortunately, Annie wasn’t the only person to become infected in Lake Lilly. Two years later another child, 9yo Jack Erenberg, met the same end.

    There may have been other cases over the years, too, went undiagnosed. N. Fowleri is usually diagnosed by autopsy.

    Here’s a graph of Minnesota’s August temperatures, from 1895 to 2013:
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/time-series/us/21/00/tmp/1/08/1895-2013?base_prd=true&firstbaseyear=1901&lastbaseyear=2000

    As you can see, there’s no obvious temperature trend. Regression analysis finds either a slight upward trend or a slight downward trend, depending on your choice of starting year. Analysis of the whole 1895-2013 August temperature record finds a slight upward trend, due to a cool period from 1902 to 1928, but of you start the analysis in the late 1920s you’ll find a slight downward trend.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Good old Dave! We can always count on him to give us logic lessons by failing to use much logic himself. A “what not to do” method of teaching. For instance, he begins this comment with a faulty premise, and then attempts to build on that poor foundation. NO ONE has said that “Naegleria Fowleri is moving north due to global warming”, and Dave again displays “junk logic” and dishonesty by so asserting.

      Naegleria Fowleri has been known to exist in MN for many decades, and the only implication in the USA Today “popular” piece for the general public is that it MAY “thrive” when MN has a particularly warm summer. Of course, Dave is off on one of his “energizer bunny” runs and is beating a drum for some reason—perhaps he has bored even himself talking about sea level and wants a change?.

      Dave talks about using “regression analysis”, a favored technique of his from that “statistical swamp” Dave likes to lead us into. Almost like the Swamp Fox leading the Redcoats into the NC swamps during the Revolution, just as Dave and NC-20 are trying to do today. Regression analysis actually causes our understanding of truth to regress, because there are simpler common sense ways to examine data. Let’s look at the data on the site that Dave provides for us.

      “Here’s a graph of Minnesota’s August temperatures, from 1895 to 2013:
      http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/time-series/us/21/00/tmp/1/08/1895-2013?base_prd=true&firstbaseyear=1901&lastbaseyear=2000

      Dave says “As you can see, there’s no obvious temperature trend. Regression analysis finds either a slight upward trend or a slight downward trend, depending on your choice of starting year.. Analysis of the whole 1895-2013 August temperature record finds a slight upward trend, due to a cool period from 1902 to 1928, but of you start the analysis in the late 1920s you’ll find a slight downward trend”.

      EXCELLENT cherrypicking, Dave! What I “saw” was that Dave used only ONE month, August, and further confused the issue with “depending on choice of starting year”. I began with the premise that climate in MN (and anywhere else) is a 12 month thing, and used the excellent tools on the NOAA site to look at trends for other months and across various intervals.

      I would ask everyone to go to the site and do the following.
      1) Select “60 MONTH” for time scale
      2) Select “December” for month (why not?—Dave chose August)
      3) in the “options” box, select “display base period”, “display trend”, “per decade”, and “show smoothed time series”
      4) Hit “plot” and VIOLA! A very interesting graph appears, and it shows a rather obvious trend, and one that is particularly disturbing for the time period from 1970 onwards.

      “NO obvious temperature trend” says Dave? Lord love a duck, Dave—do you ever really think before you speak? Or do think that everyone here is just going to suck up whatever garbage you are peddling and accept it as truth?


      • Hi dumb like a fox. Dave is just doing the same thing Muller is doing. He thinks because he can program a computer or do a calculation, he knows how to deal with a subject he is not trained in. This exactly why the peer review research system with study devoted to disciplines exists. Anyone can grab a stethoscope and PDR and misdiagnose. A physicist can attempt to draw conclusions from tornado data that is misguided. And a software programmer can run analysis on a set of data that he has not the slightest understanding of. It’s just like McKays work on renewables. Math problems are one thing, word problems are another. They cannot do word problems because they already made the mistake of assuming they understand the application. Finding the correct solution is not the same as knowing math. Sometimes you have to know the subject,too, or your answers come out like a donkey. If one thinks otherwise, or that one need not defer to mature expertise in the field of study, or competent, relevant reference groups…. then the math is not worth much.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Well said.

          Dave? DAVE??!! DAVE??? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          Are you paying attention? He’s talking about YOU!
          Will you ever understand the truth of what he’s saying?

      • daveburton Says:

        Old guy, Peter quoted the article title, “Deadly Parasite Moves North,” and called it a “Climate Fueled Disease.”

        But you say, “NO ONE has said that “Naegleria Fowleri is moving north due to global warming”, and Dave again displays “junk logic” and dishonesty by so asserting.”

        Perhaps you need new glasses, old guy? If money is a problem, I recommend Zenni.

        Old guy also wrote, “Select “December” for month (why not?—Dave chose August)”

        But I chose August because Annie contracted and died from the disease in August. You chose December as a simple act of cherry-picking.

        Similarly, I noted that whether there’s a slight upward or slight downward trend in temperatures depends on your choice of starting point, and gave examples of both. But you cherry-picked a starting point at the beginning of the 1970s ice age scare, to create the appearance of a warming trend.

        As a statistics prof once remarked:

        Numbers are like people. Torture them enough and they’ll tell you whatever you want to hear.

        That sort of “political spinning” by Climate Movement activists is one of the many reasons that so many scientists reject climate alarmism as more political hype than real science.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          I and many others have pointed out here and on other threads that Dave has a reading comprehension problem (complicated by the motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, and cognitive dissonance problems that are so characteristic of conservatives).

          Dave says “Old guy, Peter quoted the article title, “Deadly Parasite Moves North,” and called it a “Climate Fueled Disease.” Sorry, Dave, Peter did NOT call it that, he merely quoted the title of the USA Today piece, which I pointed out was a “popular” piece. A careful reading of the USA Today piece (you should look up “careful reading”, since it’s an alien concept for you) would show that they really didn’t do it either, although the implication was certainly there. And that’s as it should be—lots of “bad stuff” is “moving north” because of AGW, and the public needs to know that.

          I will say again “NO ONE has said that “Naegleria Fowleri is moving north due to global warming”. Naegleria Fowleri IS and WAS already “north”, and has been there for many decades—the whole point of the piece is that is likely “thriving” because of AGW and should be of greater concern. The folks in Lily Lake sure are concerned—lawsuiits, lake closures, much arguing going on.

          Dave says “I chose August because Annie contracted and died from the disease in August”. I thought that was Dave’s likely “surface”reason—-my point was that climate IS YEAR ROUND and that Dave was ignoring that fact in his data choice. So I went looking and chose a set of parameters that blew a very large hole in Dave’s boat (the USS Illogic). Sorry, Dave—bail faster—you’re just upset that my particular set of cherrypicked data is FAR better than yours.

          Dave says I “cherry-picked a starting point at the beginning of the 1970s ice age scare, to create the appearance of a warming trend”. WRONG again, Dave. I took the same interval and data you did—1895 to present, and let the COMPUTER manipulate and plot that data in different ways, settling on one plot to report that was meaningful. I pointed out a trend that was quite apparent to anyone with eyes to see and an open mind with which to analyze. Don’t you like what computers do with numbers? You DO love regression analysis, don’t you? How is what I did any different? It’s far more understandable and meaningful.

          The only people being tortured here are the great body of Crockers that must endure Dave’s inanities, insanities, and illogic. And Dave will never torture us enough to get us to believe what he wants us to believe. We have too much respect for the truth.

          In true “conservative denier” fashion, Dave closes with a political statement, and since he is “irony deaf, dumb, and blind”, Dave does not even see how laughable it is that he talks about “political spinning” and ignores the fact that the vast majority of CLIMATE scientists reject denialism. Remember that Dave’s “so MANY scientists” that reject AGW are those 30,000+ petition signers—-mostly engineers (who are not scientists at all) and hardly more qualified to speak as experts than some computer geek from NC who goes to sleep doing regression analyses rather than counting sheep (or brain-eating amoeba).


    • Thanks, daveburton – good to know that the idea that organisms can change their range due to changes in climate is junk science! Thanks for the tip!

      Maybe you should toss off a memo to the idiots who sell those gardening zone maps and set them straight? I’ll bet they made all that stuff up to scare Democrats into voting more, just like the huge cabal of scientists publishing hundreds of improper peer-reviewed papers about species ecology.

      Do you think they realize what they publish is junk science, too? I mean, it’s not like dengue fever just arises de novo in Texas mosquitos! They would have to be pretty stupid NOT to realize that, so they must be lying on purpose, right?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      A PS. Dave first talked about “the N. Fowleri in Lily Lake”, and shortly after about “Annie wasn’t the only person to become infected in Lake Lilly”.

      Dave is perhaps not aware that there is a LILY LAKE in Kenosha County, WI, in the far southeast corner of WI on Lake Michigan, as well as a LAKE LILLY in Iron County in the far north of WI on Lake Superior.

      It’s the Lily Lake in Kenosha County where the two kids became infected with N. Fowleri. A small point, but one would think that someone who was recently so concerned about the number of glaciers in the world could keep just TWO lakes straight and avoid confusing us. The LILLY LAKE Chamber of Commerce would also be grateful.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        A PS to the PS.

        I was perhaps too hard on Dave. I got to looking at lakes in WI, and it turns out that there are a dozen or more Lily lakes (WI has some 15,000 lakes in total), and there is confusion about the spelling. The Lily lake where the amoebas lurk has occasionally been spelled Lilly. So, I’m sorry, Dave. (Although I still don’t understand why you would spell it differently in two nearly consecutive sentences here).

  4. Andy Lee Robinson Says:

    At least climate deniers won’t have to worry about brain-eating amoebae.
    They’d starve.

  5. skeptictmac57 Says:

    Here in North Texas we have just gone through another West Nile Virus summer,though not as bad this year as last. We also have been invaded by cute little geckos that until about 10 years ago I had never seen in my life of over 60 years. We also started seeing bees emerging in February and March,along with lady bugs for the last couple years (very unusual for that time of year).I also have seen various unusual species of insects as well as these strange smallish slow moving black wasps that like to get in my house and crawl around on the carpet (at least they are easy to kill and seem harmless).Things they are a changin’ .


  6. […] covered the spread of brain eating amoebas several times.  There’s more. So much […]


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