Nevada Boy Dies From Rare Brain-Eating Amoeba

by Craig Garrett
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Brain-eating amoeba infection, illustration - stock illustration

A young boy in Nevada has passed away from a brain-eating amoeba, which officials believe he contracted while swimming at Lake Mead. The Clark county resident has not been named. They may have contracted Naegleria fowleri after coming into contact with contaminated water at the lake just on its Arizona side in early October. According to an investigation by the Southern Nevada Health District, he started displaying signs of infection approximately one week after being exposed. Officials did not reveal the juvenile’s exact age, only that he was under 18, The Daily Mail reports.

Only 31 cases of Naegleria fowleri infection have been reported in the US between 2012 and 2021. The majority of infections are diagnosed in young males under age 14. The amoeba is more prevalent during summer as it prefers hot springs and lakes to colder environments. Infection from the virus is deadly 97% of the time. In America, 143 people have contracted it since 1962 and out of those143 cases, only 4 have survived.

“My condolences go out to the family of this young man,’ said Dr Fermin Leguen, District Health Officer for the Health District. “While I want to reassure the public that this type of infection is an extremely rare occurrence, I know this brings no comfort to his family and friends at this time.” There have been three reported cases of infection and one death from the virus this year.

The tough path to recovery for victims of the brain-eating amoeba

Although infection rates aren’t always fatal, the road to recovery can be difficult. In July, Florida resident Caleb Ziegelbauer contracted the virus. After spending two months in the hospital and enduring a seizure and intubation, Ziegelbauer, 13, is stable. He has been transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Chicago. The amoeba that causes Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis is rare. It leads to a lethal central nervous system infection that causes inflammation and destruction of brain tissue.

Early-onset symptoms of this disease are often mistaken for bacterial meningitis. If left untreated, there is a high chance – up to 70 percent – that the patient will succumb to the disease. Naegleria fowleri infection can occur if the amoeba enters your nose while jumping or diving into freshwater. Early symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. But those symptoms can quickly worsen. In later stages, an infected person may experience a stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, seizures, hallucinations, and coma.

If freshwater containing the Naegleria fowleri amoeba enters your nose, you can become infected. Symptoms of the infection in the early stages include headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. But those symptoms can worsen quickly. In the later stages, an infected person may experience a stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, seizures hallucinations-, and coma.

Outsider.com