The most pressing problem, according to Cabral, is that water is not routinely tested for amoeba in most municipalities. Instead, water is tested for bacteria that are more likely to cause intestinal problems. The most common of these is cryptosporidium, a parasite that needs a living organism from which to feed.
Naegleria fowleri, however is not a parasite like cryptosporidium, and it can feed off of everyday bacteria or yeast in the water.
In addition to avoiding submerging your head in high-risk water areas, the CDC also cautions users of a neti pot, sinus rinse bottles or other irrigation devices to boil their water for at least one minute before use.
It is important to note, said Cabral, that some people are more susceptible than others.
"Some physicians have found that if you have had a broken nose or deviated septum, or some other defect in the nasal area, you may be more susceptible to infection from Naegleria fowleri," she said. "Another thing we have found is that our complement immune system, our first line of defense in the body when an organism invades, somehow does not protect us against this amoeba."