The child who died after swimming in the Elkhorn River has died due to brain-eating amoeba, CDC confirmed
OMAHA, Nebraska — Friday morning, the Douglas County Health Department said in a press release that the CDC confirmed that Naegleria fowleri, also known as the brain-eating amoeba, was the cause of death of a youngster from Douglas County who died after swimming in the Elkhorn River. According to the health department, this bacteria causes Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM).
The news release continued:
“The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) urges residents to take precautions while being exposed to freshwater sources such as rivers, lakes, and streams. Naegleria fowleri is present in many freshwater sources and is being identified further north as previously cooler regions become warmer and drier.
People can become infected with the single-celled organism when water carrying the amoeba enters the body through the nose, typically while swimming or diving. Drinking polluted water cannot infect a person, and the virus does not spread from person to person. Symptoms may include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting, and usually appear 1 to 12 days after infection. These symptoms may develop into neck stiffness, disorientation, seizures, and other neurological issues. In 97% of instances, death occurs within approximately 5 days of the onset of symptoms.
The risk of PAM can be reduced by plugging the nose, preventing submersion of the head and/or water entering the nose, avoiding churning up sediment, and avoiding freshwater sources during latter summer weeks when water temperatures rise and water levels fall. Water skiing and high-speed tubing are high-risk activities because they enable or force water into the nose, eyes, and mouth.
It is not commonly recommended to test natural water sources because the organism occurs naturally in greater numbers in freshwater bodies.”