A rare case of a brain eating amoeba was confirmed in Florida, US on Saturday.
The Florida Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that a patient had been infected by naegleria fowleri, a microscopic single-celled living amoeba, in a tweet. The amoeba can cause the brain to suffer a severe infection that destroys brain tissue and is usually fatal, the DOH said.
The amoeba can be commonly found in warm freshwater such as ponds, lakes, and rivers, the department added, with infection normally occurring when contaminated water enters the body through the nose.
Once it has entered the nose, it travels to the brain and where it can begin its destructive path. The DOH said that the peak season for the amoeba is normally in July, August, and September and it can be found in many warm freshwater sources across the US, but is more common in the south.
While there have been 37 reported cases of exposure in Florida since 1962, the DOH warned people against swimming in the state’s freshwater lakes, rivers and ponds during warm seaons.
Symptoms of the amoeba include headache, fever, nausea, disorientation, stiff neck, vomiting, seizures, loss of balance and hallucinations, the DOH said, and urged people to get immediate medical help should they develop any of these symptoms after swimming in any warm water.
“Remember, this disease is rare and effective prevention strategies can allow for a safe and relaxing summer swim season,” the DOH said.