A2: Microbes in the News: 1

A Silver Bullet Against the Brain-Eating Amoeba?

-New York Times

-January 14, 2019

I found an interesting article about a new way to stop  Naegleria fowleri, a brain eating amoeba found in freshwater ponds in the US. They are using silver particles covered in anti-seizure medication, which can kill the amoeba.

This article intrigued me because I haven’t heard of anyone having brain eaten amoeba in the United States, I didn’t know that there were any diseases like this occurring here. This article appears to be scientifically accurate. I think this article did a good job at communicating a new discovery by mixing quotes and scientific information.

This article mentions using crickets, mice and cockroaches as animal models for future testing. My question is why are they using these bugs to carry out these experiments rather than a model species?



3 Comments for “A2: Microbes in the News: 1”



I’m glad that this solution is proving to be valuable, these amoebas probably freak me out the worst! Ironically, I was at the US Whitewater Center (Google that + Amoeba) about two years ago. I thought your critical analysis was strong, and I agree that the author built credibility by quoting several professionals. I do agree that it’s odd to do testing on non-model organisms such as crickets and cockroaches. I looked into this question and found a relevant and elucidating article. Basically, the article explained that invertebrates are more humane to test than vertebrates, they are better for educational purposes, and “[b]ecause of the similarities between human and invertebrate
infections, insects are considered a model of choice for
studying opportunistic microorganisms” (Wilson-Sanders, 2011).
Here is an ugly link to what I read



Wow, this is an interesting article. I didn’t know anything about Naegleria fowleri before, which I suppose isn’t surprising since I’m from Alaska. I agree the article appears to be accurate. There doesn’t seem to be lots of exaggeration or unnecessary scare facts, and there is a nice variety of viewpoints from different sources. Other articles I read related to the topic also describe the infections with similar symptoms and outcomes. I’m a little confused about your question on not using model organisms. It seems like the scientists interviewed plan to test the silver treatment on animals that are more commonly considered ethically suitable, well-known and researched, and that are easily native to the areas where this amoeba can live. I think these are decent first test subjects for the proposed treatment.



Thanks for sharing this article! It would be amazing if this treatment worked, perhaps if it is successful they could find a way to implement the treatment into city water sources. I’ve heard several cases of brain eating amoeba infections via tap water, either in using it for a netti pot of cleaning contact lenses.

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