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Meet the ‘happy amoeba’ that could eat your brain

This eerily happy single-celled organism is one of the brain-eating amoebae responsible five deaths annually in the U.S.

Published: Updated:

As holiday-makers opt for water activities to keep cool in the summer heat, a dangerous creature lurks in the freshwater that is usually home to happy splashes.

This eerily happy single-celled organism is one of the brain-eating amoebae responsible for the death of five people in the U.S. every summer, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

While deadly, the Naegleria fowleri is not as fatal as falling coconuts or shark attacks, as the latter two kill far more people every year than the brain-eating amoeba, Vocativ news website reported.

The organism lives in freshwater, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs which are often frequented in the summer months.

It can be the cause of amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a rare and deadly brain infection. Upon contact with contaminated water, the single-celled organism enters the body through the nose and then makes its way to the brain, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

However, one would not get infected through drinking water contaminated with Naegleria, the Center said.