Florida Resident Dies from Rare Brain-Eating Amoeba Infection
The Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County has confirmed the death of a resident due to a rare brain-eating amoeba that was likely contracted by rinsing their sinuses with tap water. The amoeba, known as Naegleria fowleri, can be found in warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers and hot springs, as well as soil. It can cause a fatal brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
The Department of Health said it believed that the patient was infected “as a result of sinus rinse practices” using tap water. They noted that this was the first reported case of Naegleria fowleri infection in the United States this year, and the first ever reported in winter months in the United States.
In order to prevent infection, health experts recommend using only distilled or sterile water when making sinus rinse solutions, and boiling and cooling tap water for at least one minute before use. It is also important to avoid activities such as jumping or diving into bodies of warm freshwater, putting your head underwater in hot springs, or playing with hoses or sprinklers without supervision.
Signs of Naegleria fowleri infection can be headaches, fever, nausea, balance issues, confusion, convulsions, and a rigid neck. Patients typically succumb to the disease within a period of 18 days or less from the onset of symptoms.
It is incredibly rare for someone to survive a brain-eating amoeba infection. From 1962 to 2021, only four out of 154 people in the United States survived, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Department of Health is working with healthcare facilities to monitor any indications of additional infections. They are also working with local public utilities to identify any potential links and make any necessary corrective actions.
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