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Rare fatal infection caused by 'brain-eating amoeba' confirmed

  • Rare fatal infection caused by 'brain-eating amoeba' confirmed
    Commonly found in warm freshwater, the amoeba enters the body through the nose. Rare fatal infection caused by 'brain-eating amoeba' confirmed
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Society
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By BBC
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A person in Hillsborough County has been infected with Naegleria fowleri, a microscopic single-celled living amoeba, which is found in warm freshwaters such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals

A rare and devastating infection of the brain, which is caused by an amoeba that destroys the brain tissue and is usually fatal, has been confirmed in Florida's Hillsborough County. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) has not disclosed any further details about the patient. 

"The Florida Department of Health has confirmed one Florida case infected with Naegleria fowleri in Hillsborough County. Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic single-celled living amoeba. The amoeba can cause a rare infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) that destroys brain tissue. The amoeba is commonly found in warm freshwaters such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals," warned the department.

Commonly found in warm freshwater, the amoeba enters the body through the nose.

Those infected with Naegleria fowleri have symptoms including fever, nausea and vomiting, as well as a stiff neck and headaches. Most die within a week.

The DOH has urged people who experience those symptoms to "seek medical attention right away, as the disease progresses rapidly".

"Remember, this disease is rare and effective prevention strategies can allow for a safe and relaxing summer swim season," the DOH said.

Naegleria fowleri infections are rare in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Between 2009 and 2018, only 34 infections were reported in the country. Of those cases, 30 people were infected by recreational water, three after performing nasal irrigation with contaminated tap water, and one person was infected by contaminated tap water used on a backyard slip-n-slide, the CDC said.