Rare, Deadly Amoeba Kills Three Americans in One Summer

The CDC released a statement on Friday concerning the deaths of three young Americans this year, all of whom died due to a rare water-borne amoeba.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a statement on Friday concerning the deaths of three young Americans this year, all of whom died due to a rare water-borne amoeba.

Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba which resides in warm freshwater lakes and rivers and occasionally in poorly treated swimming pools. The amoeba enters the body through the nose and “swims” up into the brain, where it causes a "rare, but severe" brain infection.

The CDC reported that this amoeba kills roughly three people per year.

The symptoms of the disease begin in the first week, when the victim of the amoeba begins to suffer from intense headaches, fever, vomiting, and a stiffening of the neck. The patient eventually becomes confused, and suffers from seizures and hallucinations.

The CDC reported that is no cure at this moment for the disease, but certain drugs have proven to be effective in the laboratory.

Between the years of 2001 and 2010, only 32 people were infected in the United States.

“The best way to prevent recreational water illnesses is to keep germs out of the water in the first place,” reported Keri Hall, Director of Epidemiology at the Virginia Department of Health.

Earlier this summer, a 16-year-old in Florida died of the infection after an outdoor swim, and a nine-year-old died in Virginia from swimming at a summer fishing camp.

A 20-year-old in Louisiana died after being infected by a contaminated nasal allergy spray.

The CDC provides more information on naegleria fowleri on the agency’s website.