The rare but deadly “brain-eating” amoeba called Naegleria fowleri has claimed its third American life this summer, CBS reports say.
The latest victim, 9-year-old Christian Alexander Strickland of Henrico County, Virginia, died on August 5th after swimming in the infected waters of a local fishing camp in his state.
Autopsy results confirmed the cause of death as meningoencephalitis, inflammation of the brain and its lining.
“He went from playing video games to being brain dead,” Christian’s mother told reporters.
Reports of young Strickland’s death come just days after Courtney Nash, a 16-year-old girl from Florida, succumbed to the same parasite after swimming in the St. John’s River.
Prior to that, the third amoeba death, which occurred in Louisiana back in June, was far more unusual.
An unidentified young man, reportedly is his 20s, died after rinsing his sinuses with tap water using a neti pot – a small teapot-shaped container used to rinse out the nose and relieve allergies and colds.
Health officials later found the amoeba in the home’s water system.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the brain infection caused by the amoeba is not communicable and spreads rapidly, resulting in death within days.
The symptoms of the infection could be a change in the sense of smell or taste, fever, sudden headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion and loss of balance.
While there are currently no known treatments for people who develop a brain infection caused by the Naegleria Fowleri, observing the following tips provided by the CDC can help reduce the risk of infection:
- Refrain from activities in warm, untreated or poorly treated water, especially when water levels are low and temperatures are high.
- Hold the nose shut or use nose clips when swimming in warm fresh water.
- Avoid digging or stirring up underwater sediments while submerged in shallow, warm freshwater areas.