Brain-Eating Amoeba Found In Fresh Water Claims A Victim In Minnesota

Summer is here again, with its promises of cool, refreshing water holes and having fun in the sun swimming. But before you take a dip in freshwater lakes and ponds, take heed: The brain-eating amoeba often found in such bodies of water has claimed another victim, and this time, it struck much farther north than where it’s usually found.

A 14-year-old Minnesota boy was taken off life support Thursday, passing away only 48 hours after he went swimming in a lake, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the third confirmed death in the state involving the Naegleria fowleri amoeba since 2010. He was hospitalized on Tuesday with primary amebic meningoencephalitis.

We’ve reported on cases involving the Naegleria fowleri amoeba before, but for those not in the know: It’s a rare but very deadly occurrence, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The amoeba enters the body through the nose and makes its way to the brain to feed, and is usually the result of swimming in bodies of warm freshwater — often found in southern states — though it can exist in fresh waters in the north as well.

Symptoms like headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and a stiff neck can show up anywhere between one and seven days after the infection occurs, says the CDC.

“Later symptoms include confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations,” the CDC notes. “After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within one to 12 days.”

It can’t get into your brain by drinking it, just by sniffing fresh water directly into your nose. It’s also almost always deadly — providing a great reason to wear nose plugs while swimming in fresh water, or to keep your head above water, health officials say.

Previously: Louisiana Parish Warns Residents After Brain-Eating Amoeba Found In The Water Supply

Minnesota 14-year-old dies from rare infection after swimming in lake [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.