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The Florida Department of Health reported a case of a brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria fowleri in Hillsborough County, Florida late last week

PHOTO CREDITS: KATERYNAKON/DREAMSTIME 

According to the Florida Department of Health as of late last week, there has been a reported case of a brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria fowleri in Hillsborough County, Florida. ~

Naegleria fowleri is a single-celled organism that “causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which destroys brain tissue and causes swelling and death,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Naegleria fowleri is often found in warm freshwater environments and “Infections can happen when contaminated water enters the body through the nose,” the health department said. Once the amoeba enters the nose through contaminated water, health officials say it then travels to the brain where it causes PAM. ~

Since 1962, there have been a total of one hundred and forty-three known United States infections of Naegleria fowleri, and one hundred and thirty-nine of these reported cases proved to be fatal, according to the CDC. Furthermore, the CDC claims thirty-seven cases of Naegleria fowleri have been reported specifically in Florida in the same time period. Between 2009 and 2018, only 34 infections were reported in the country. Of those cases, 30 people were infected by recreational water, three after performing nasal irrigation with contaminated tap water, and one person was infected by contaminated tap water used on a backyard slip-n-slide, the CDC said. ~

The Department of Health stated that “this disease is rare, and effective prevention strategies can allow for a safe and relaxing summer swim season.” The CDC suggests anyone who experiences headaches, fever, nausea, disorientation, vomiting, stiff neck, seizures, loss of balance, or hallucinations after swimming in warm water should contact their health care provider immediately. “It is essential to seek medical attention right away, as the disease progresses rapidly after the start of symptoms,” the health department said. ~

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