It's a warm day. Friends are out on the dock, people are out boating. It’s a good day to go swimming. You go change into your swim suit. Then you’re running out to the dock, splash into the pond. Splashing around with your friends. After a few hours you get out. Then your head feels like its spinning. You push it aside, thinking it’s nothing. Tomorrow, your head is still spinning. You can’t remember why. The next few days, you can’t recall some events. You decide to go to the doctors. They figure out that you are now a food source for the rare Naegleria fowleri. You want it out of your head. The doctor explains that the process can kill it, but also can kill you. You agree to it anyways wanting the unwanted guest out. The next day, everyone is dressed in black. You’re dead. You died because of the Naegleria fowleri, or the brain eating amoeba.

It Eats Without a Mouth!

If an amoeba does not have a mouth, how can it eat? Well, the amoeba has something called pseudopods. This is greek for false leg. Pseudopods are an extended membrane of which allows this pinhead sized monster of nature to move around and eat (see this video below to watch the amoeba use its fake legs to eat two paramecium). In that video you can see the pseudopods in close around the parameciums. You can also see that the vacuole shrinks down the food to a smaller size while also making the amoeba bigger. The process for this is simple. The pseudopods move around the amoeba while it is looking for food. Then when the food it found, the pseudopods start to close around it making is hard for the prey to escape. (Protozoa) Depending on the type of amoeba, it will eat different food. More predatory amoeba will eat dead organisms. Less predatory amoeba will eat bacteria.

Whats a Pseudopod?

The amoeba extends its pseudopods. This allows it to move around freely. It also helps it eat (see video above). If many amoeba choose to move together in search of food, they will form together into something called a slug. A slug can contain over 1,000 amoeba (Burnie 20-21)! Slugs look like a child splattered paint on the wall.

Amoeba eating with psuedopods. (Wikipedia)
Amoeba eating with psuedopods. (Wikipedia)

The Danger of Amoebas!

An amoeba is able to kill humans. The amoeba goes into humans when sediment is kicked up in water. It travels through the human’s nose and into their brain. It then eats the brain cells using its pseudopods. The amoeba can kill a human in as little as five days. For example, the star athlete, Michael John Riley Jr., died from an amoeba at age 14 in 2015 (Yan). He was swimming with his swim team at a park. He then became sick. He died five days later after he went. It turns out that an amoeba got into his brain because they were kicking up so much sediment.


Naegleria fowleri may be tiny, but it’s a deadly as a gun shot to the head. Even thought only a handful of people have gotten one, some cases have gone unreported. Be careful swimming in untreated warm water, mainly in July and August in warm places like Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Arizona and California. Also, many cases are mainly males around ages 13 or younger. (Yan). But dont worry! Naegleria fowleri cannot live in salt water.


Works Cited
“Amoeba Phagocytosis.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation,
Balamuth, William. “Ameba.” Encyclopedia Americana. Scholastic Grolier Online, Accessed 30 Jan. 2017.
Burnie, David. Microlife. New York, DK Pub., 1997.
Padilla, Michael J. Prentice Hall Science Explorer. Teacher’s ed., Needham, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005.
“Protozoa.” BrainPOP, 2017, Accessed 30 Jan. 2017.
Rettner, Rachael. “5 Key Facts about Brain Eating Amoebas.” Live Science, 22 June 2016, Accessed 2 Feb. 2017.
WebMD. 25 Feb. 2016, Accessed 30 Jan. 2017.
Yan, Holly. “Brain-eating Amoeba.” CNN, 31 Aug. 2015, Accessed 30 Jan. 2017.