Nevada boy dies from brain-eating amoeba after possible exposure at Lake Mead
After swimming at Nevada’s Lake Mead, a boy has died from an extremely rare brain-eating amoeba infection
A boy from Clark County, Nevada, has died after being infected by a rare brain-eating amoeba, the Southern Nevada Health district announced on Wednesday.
According to a statement from the Lake Mead Recreational Area Park Service, the boy may have contracted the infection while swimming in Lake Mead in the Kingman Wash area, during the weekend of Sept. 30.
Per CNN, the boy began to exhibit symptoms a week after exposure. This is the first confirmed fatality of a brain-eating amoeba, or Naeglaria Fowleri, from possible exposure at Lake Mead, and the third within 2022, including a Nebraska boy that fell into a river and a Missouri man who became ill at a beach.
Officials have not released the name of the deceased, as he was a minor.
How rare are brain-eating amoebas?
Naeglaria Fowleri is commonly found in soil and warm bodies of freshwater, such as lakes, rivers and hot springs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infection happens when the amoeba enters a person’s body through the nose. It cannot cause infection through swallowed water or be transmitted from person to person. Once the amoeba has entered the body it travels up to the brain where the amoeba uses the brain tissue as a food source. This leads to swelling and an infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM.
Naeglaria Fowleri is extremely rare, but almost always fatal. Per the CDC, of the 154 cases reported in the United States between 1962 and 2021, only four people survived.
What are the symptoms of a brain-eating amoeba?
Symptoms generally begin five days after exposure to the amoeba, as stated by the CDC. The symptoms resemble bacterial meningitis, and may include headache, fever, vomiting and nausea. As the infection continues, symptoms that appear may include a stiff neck, confusion, seizures, a lack of attention to people and surroundings and coma.
Once symptoms appear, PAM moves quickly and death usually occurs within five days, though it can appear anywhere between 1 to 18 days.
CNN reports that Lake Mead will continue to allow recreational swimming, taking into account the rarity of the disease, but urged people to take the precautions recommended by the CDC: Avoid jumping or diving into bodies of water, use a noseclip while swimming or keep your head above water, avoid submerging your head in warm freshwater, avoid digging in or stirring up the sedimentary surrounding warm freshwater.