Recreational water users have increased risks of being exposed to the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri . It is a free-living amoeba which occurs naturally in soils and aquatic habitats. Naegleria fowleri thrives in warm, fresh water all over the world but the key word here is ‘warm.’ Amoeba loves heat and Australian summers are the ideal proliferation temperature required. Naegleria fowleri does not live in salt water, or in properly maintained swimming pools, although it can be found in domestic water supplies.

After amoeba enters through the nasal passage, it infects the olfactory nerve. Naegleria fowleri is attracted to nerve cells and hence follows the nerves into the brain. Victims usually die 7-10 days post-infection however, symptoms may not appear for up to 14 days. Due to this, unfortunately, most victims aren’t treated within time. Due to the rarity of the infection, doctors typically do not screen for it until it is too late. The reduce your risk some simple precautions include:

  • staying out of dirty pools, spas, waterholes and dams
  • ensuring pools are kept clean, free of dirt and leaves, and are properly chlorinated
  • testing water in swimming pools at least twice a day
  • making sure pools that do not use a stabiliser contain at least two milligrams per litre of chlorine (four milligrams per litre where a stabiliser is used)
  • ensuring pH levels are kept between 7.2 and 7.6
  • keeping wading pools clean and only using the water once.
  • flushing garden hoses before playing in the water.

Last year (in 2020), Serpentine Falls was closed when water sampling detected Naegleria fowleri, the Department of Health issued a warning to recreational users.In 2019 in Texas a girl passed away from swimming in a river near her home.

To assist in your Naegleria fowleri amoeba management:

  • Conduct regular field assessments of your water systems
  • Conduct a risk assessment
    • Designed / operated / maintained to minimise opportunity for sediment to accumulate and water to stagnate
  • Develop site-specific free residual chlorine management procedures
    • Ensure that 0.5mg/L of free residual chlorine can be achieved throughout the distribution system to all outlets
  • Develop monitoring programs to track risks / verify controls are effective
    • Temperature profiling and monitoring of thermophilic amoeba (including naegleria)
  • Utilise compliance software to drive implementation strategies


Should you require further assistance, please contact us.

You can also stay up to date by connecting with us on Facebook or LinkedIn.