About a month after a water park in North Carolina was shut down when a young woman was exposed to a brain-eating amoeba, another brain-eating amoeba has surfaced in South Carolina. Eighteen-year-old Ohio resident Lauren Setz, who later died, was infected by the amoeba in June after she fell into the water while on a church rafting trip at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in North Carolina, according to an earlier Inquisitr article. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention tested the waters and found that it was contaminated with the rare, often fatal brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. The CDC said that there was a lot of debris and dirt in the water, due to a faulty water sanitation system, which contributed to the growth of the amoeba.
Now the New York Daily News has reported another instance of the rare brain-eating amoeba being found in South Carolina. A resident of South Carolina, who has not yet been identified, was exposed to Naegleria fowleri on July 24, after swimming near the Edisto River in Charleston County, S.C., according to Dr. Linda Bell, spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The CDC says that the amoeba is often found in warm freshwater, and infections from the Naegleria fowleri are about 97 percent fatal. However, there have only been about 37 cases reported in the last 10 years. Unfortunately, out of the 138 cases reported from 1962 to 2015, only three people have survived the infection in the U.S.
In a statement released by the SCDHEC that confirmed the South Carolina infection, Dr. Bell said that infection from the amoeba was extremely difficult to contract and required very specific circumstances.
“First, you must be swimming in water in which the amoeba is present,” she said. “Second, you must jump into the amoeba-containing water feet-first, allowing the water to go up your nose with enough force that the amoeba can make its way to the brain. Most commonly, exposure results in the amoeba dying before causing infection.”
In order to prevent infection from the brain-eating amoeba, Dr. Bell said, “You should avoid swimming or jumping into bodies of fresh water when the water is warm and the water levels are low. Also, you should either hold your nose or use a nose plug. You cannot be infected by merely drinking water containing the amoeba.
The statement also gives further advice to prevent infection by avoiding water activities in untreated or poorly treated water and to avoid digging in the mud or stirring up sediment in warm, fresh water. The Naegleria fowleri is not found in salt water, such as the ocean.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the amoeba infection usually start from one to nine days after contracting the amoeba and include headache, fever, and vomiting. People who are infected may also experience seizures, hallucinations, and may even fall into a coma as the infection progresses. A new drug called miltefosine can treat the microbial infections when used with other medications. Profounda, the manufacturer of miltefosine, overnighted the drug to the hospital in South Carolina where the infected person is being treated, according to the NY Daily News article.
Stat News said that the pharmaceutical company sent the drug to Charleston by courier from Orlando, Florida. The Charleston hospital had called the company at around 10 p.m. Tuesday night and the courier delivered the drug to Charleston in about six hours, said Todd MacLauglan, CEO of Profunda. The rare brain-eating amoeba is a one-celled organism that causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis, which can cause almost certain death in the patient who gets infected with the disease.
If you swim in warm fresh water, such as a lake, pond, or river, be sure to follow the instructions above in order to prevent getting infected with this fatal brain-eating amoeba.
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