I just read a very sad story of a 16-year old girl that died after being infected by an amoeba in Brevard County, Florida. They believe that the amoeba could have entered the teen’s body as the teen swam in a nearby river. The girl got a very high fever and was vomiting. Once they took her to the hospital a spinal tap showed that Naegleria fowleri was present in her spinal fluids. It is reported that amoeba infections in humans are extremely rare. The CDC found 32 reported cases in 10 years — compared with 36,000 drowning deaths from 1996 to 2005. This is a rare but deadly amoeba that usually once discovered results in death. The usual age of the victims is 12, because children and teenagers are more likely to play and swim in water. Nearly two-thirds of those killed by the amoeba are children under the age of 13. The interesting fact and here is where we need to pay attention – the amoebas enter the human body through the nose after an individual swims or dives into warm fresh water, like ponds, lakes, rivers and even hot springs. This deadly amoeba is lying in wait in fresh waters during the summertime. The highest possibility for infection is during the months of July, August and September. Why are children so susceptible? The theory is that perhaps children lack certain antibodies to protect them against this deadly amoeba. The amoeba almost always enters through the nose and starts looking for food, which almost always it ends up in the brain and start eating neurons. It causes a great damage to the frontal lobe and is just about impossible to treat once it starts feeding. If your child has been swimming in a river and begins to feel sick here are the warning signs. Symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and neck stiffness. Later symptoms include confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations. Death typically occurs three to seven days after the symptoms start.
* Refrain from activities in warm, untreated or poorly treated water, especially when water levels are low and temperatures are high.
* Hold the nose shut or use nose clips when swimming in warm fresh water.
* Avoid digging or stirring up underwater sediments while submerged in shallow, warm freshwater areas.