Boy dies after being infected by brain-eating amoeba

A second person has died from a rare brain-eating amoeba found in freshwater (Image: AP)

A young boy in Nebraska has died after suspected infection with a rare brain-eating amoeba typically found in freshwater lakes and rivers.

The child, whose name and age were not released, is the state of Nebraska’s first known death from the parasite, according to health officials.

Health officials believe the child was exposed to Naegleria fowleri while swimming in a shallow part of the Elkhorn River in Douglas County on August 8.

Symptoms began about five days after the child’s exposure, and within 48 hours the child was rushed to a local hospital. The little child died of his infection a few days later, said Dr. Kari Neemann, a pediatric infectious disease physician and medical consultant for Douglas County.

Officials said the child was swimming normally when she was abandoned. Naegleri fowleri enters the body through the nose and can travel to the brain and destroy brain tissue.

Federal health officials are working to confirm whether the case was an infection with Naegleria fowleri, the Douglas County Health Department said.

“We can only imagine the devastation this family must be feeling and our deepest condolences go out to them,” said Lindsay Huse, Douglas County Health Director in an opinion Wednesday.

“We can honor the memory of this child by educating ourselves about the risk and then taking steps to prevent infection.”

Last month, a Missouri swimmer thought to have contracted the amoeba while swimming at an Iowa beach died from her infection.

The swimmer was infected on July 7 after swimming in the Lakes of Three Fires in Taylor County, Iowa officials said.

While the odds of being infected by the rare amoeba are slim, health officials say people should take extra precautions when swimming in freshwater like lakes and rivers.

Symptoms of primary amebic meningoencephalitis include severe headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, and seizures. These types of infections occur primarily during the summer months between July and September and in the southern US states, according to the CDC.

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Justin Scacco

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