Medical Minute: CDC Confirms 1 Dead From 'Brain-Eating Amoeba'

Monday, August 8th 2022, 4:43 pm

By: CBS News

Federal health officials confirm one person has died after being infected with what’s known as a brain eating amoeba. While infections are extremely rare, they usually happen in the summer months and are almost always fatal.

At the Lake of Three Fires State Park in Iowa, a sign now warns swimmers that Naegleria Fowleri has been detected. The so-called “brain-eating” amoeba live in warm fresh water such as lakes and rivers.

Dr. Julia Haston with the CDC said, “When people go swimming, water can enter the nose and these amoeba then can travel from the nose through nerves actually to enter the brain. They very rapidly start to destroy brain tissue and cause brain swelling.”

Infections are rare and usually deadly. Last month, health officials say a Missouri resident was infected after swimming in the Iowa water and died. To date, there have been 155 cases in the U.S and only four patients have survived.

Related Story: Swimmer Infected With Brain-Eating Amoeba After Trip To Iowa Lake

Symptoms usually start about five days after infection, and at first can include headache, fever, nausea or vomiting. Later, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations can also develop.

“We do have medications that we recommend for treatment for primary amoebic meningoencephalitis when it's diagnosed,” Haston said. “So it's very important if they have some of these symptoms after they've been swimming in fresh water, that they go see a healthcare provider.”

Prevention is key. The CDC suggests that swimmers who enjoy a dip in warm fresh waters this summer, should avoid jumping, diving and splashing where water can get into the nose, or wear a nose clip.

The CDC says a person cannot get an infection from a swimming pool that has been properly cleaned, maintained, and disinfected.


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