Infections from brain-eating amoebas have claimed the life of a third victim. A highly dangerous organism to its human host, the amoebas are typically found in warm fresh water or hot springs. The fresh-water organisms, though rare, result in a 95% mortality rate in its victims.
Most of the cases with the brain-eating amoeba, also known as Naegleria fowleri, occur in children or teenagers, according to CNN.
While the affects of the amoeba on its victims are frightening, there are few known cases of the infection. Between 2001 and 2010, a total of 32 infections were reported in the United States.
Infections commonly occur during the summer, in the months of July, August and September. Southern states are the hardest hit. Warm freshwater lakes and rivers are the most common source of the amoeba, according to the CDC.
The amoeba, once inside its human host, looks for food. The brain is often where it will end up, where the organism will start eating away at the neurons.
Initial symptoms of infection are similar to an infection of bacterial meningitis, including headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting as well as a stiff neck. During its later stages the infection can cause symptoms including confusion, lack of awareness, hallucinations and seizures, reports CNN.
What can the public do to prevent or reduce the risk of an infection by the brain-eating amoeba? First, be aware of the risk when entering into warm, stagnant freshwater. And, if possible, do not take part in water activities in bodies of water that are too warm, untreated, or are poorly-treated.
Since the amoeba usually travels into its human host via the nose, wear nose clips when entering into warm freshwater.
And, avoid digging or stirring up the sediment when in shallow freshwater.
These precautions do not completely eliminate the risk of contracting the brain-eating amoeba. However, it is helpful in reducing the risk of infection from the fresh-water organism.