Brain-eating amoeba infects 13-year-old boy in Florida

A brain-eating amoeba crawled into a teenager's nose while he was bathing in the sea. Doctors are now fighting for the life of a 13-year-old boy from the USA.

13-year-old Caleb was vacationing with his family on a public beach in Florida. In the sea, not far from the shore, there was a small unicellular parasite, Naegleria fowleri. The amoeba imperceptibly entered the boy's body.

Five days later, the teenager developed fever and hallucinations. At first, doctors diagnosed meningitis. By the time they realized that they were mistaken, the amoeba had already "settled" in the patient's brain. The boy fell into a coma.

According to statistics, the survival rate after contracting Naegleria fowleri is only three percent.

A Missouri resident earlier died this month after being infected by the brain-eating amoeba. Protozoa are usually found in warm fresh water bodies, but they adapt to salt water at times.

Naegleria fowleri is bacteria-eating microorganism that can be pathogenic. Naegleria fowleri infects humans when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose causing an extremely rare, sudden, severe and usually fatal brain infection called naegleriasis or primary amoebic meningoencephalitis. The amoeba cannot cause infection if a person swallows contaminated water.

It takes one to nine days for symptoms to appear. Symptoms may include:

  • headache,
  • fever,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • loss of appetite,
  • altered mental state,
  • coma,
  • drooping eyelid,
  • blurred vision,
  • loss of the sense of taste.

Afterwards, an infected person may develop stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. Once symptoms begin to appear, death usually occurs within two weeks. The infection does not spread from human to human. From 2009 to 2017, 34 infections were reported in the United States.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team, Editor: Dmitry Sudakov