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A brain eating amoeba warning has been issued by Florida health officials after a 12-year-old boy contracted a potentially lethal form of amebic meningitis, caused by a rare parasite called Naegleria fowleri.
The boy was playing in a water-filled ditch near his home, reports United Press International. ??It's the latest brain-eating amoeba case in recent weeks; in a separate incident last month, a 12-year-old boy in Arkansas? contracted primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) after swimming at a water park.
Naegleria fowleri, or the "brain-eating" amoeba, is commonly found in warm freshwater (like lakes, rivers and hot springs) and soil. In very rare instances, Naegleria infections may also occur from other contaminated water sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water), according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Most Naegleria cases occur in children or teenagers. The parasite usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose.
Through 2012, the survival rates have been grim. There were 128 known cases of Naegleria-caused infections, and just two survivors. The infection typically presents itself within seven days and can be fatal within 12 days, reports UPI.
Fortunately, the 12-year-old in Arkansas has responded positively to an experimental anti-amoeba drug called Impavido. There is hope that the recovery of the two 12-year-olds infected this summer will double the survival rate.
If the Florida boy contracted PAM from a neighbor's ditch, then his parents could potentially sue for negligence. They would need to prove that the neighbor somehow breached a duty of ordinary care.
Whoever owned the ditch could be on the hook based on premises liability if he knew the ditch was a dangerous condition that is especially risky for children, but failed to fix it. However, liability may be tricky to establish because it may not have been foreseeable that the boy would contract a life-threatening pathogen from an open ditch.
Symptoms to Look For
Keep an eye out for symptoms that resemble bacterial meningitis, including: headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting as well as a stiff neck. During its later stages the infection can cause symptoms including oversleeping, confusion, lack of awareness, hallucinations, and seizures, reports CNN.
If your child exhibits these symptoms and behaves abnormally, seek medical help immediately.