Roni Jacobson has written a scary/fun/entertaining/sad piece for Scientific American about what it is like to have your brain eaten by amoebas. The almost universally fatal infections are rare, and usually occur from swimming in warm fresh water (think Arizona). However, recent evidence suggests that the infections may be increasing, and may be spreading north, perhaps in part due to climate change. Check out Jacobson’s article for more info and a description of the infection. The beginning of the infection is described below.
It turns out that “brain eating” is actually a pretty accurate description for what the amoeba does. After reaching the olfactory bulbs, N. fowleri feasts on the tissue there using suction-cup-like structures on its surface. This destruction leads to the first symptoms—loss of smell and taste—about five days after the infection sets in.