CDC Rules Out Deadly ‘Brain-Eating’ Amoeba in Mysterious Arizona Infection

Health officials in Arizona have ruled out a so-called “brain-eating amoeba” in the case of a recent illness. The Arizona Department of Health Services said samples were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday for confirmation that the case was caused by the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, KSAZ-TV reported. The next day, however, the testing came back negative, the outlet reported. “The Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed on Wednesday that a person feared to have a brain-eating amoeba in Mohave County doesn’t have it,” KPHO-TV also announced. The state agency has been working with Mohave County officials on the case. No details were released about the patient’s name, age or hometown. Cases of Naegleria fowleri infection are extremely rare, but almost inevitably fatal, according to the CDC, which listed the death rate as “over 97 percent.” “Only four people have survived out of 157 known infected individuals in the United States from 1962 to 2022,” the agency’s website said. Most people get infected by getting water up their nose, the CDC explained. “The amoeba then travels up the nose to the brain, where it destroys the brain tissue and causes a devastating infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). PAM is almost always fatal.” In 2022, a Nevada boy who had gone swimming in the Kingman Wash area at Arizona’s Lake Mead became infected with the amoeba, according to the ADHS. “Naegleria fowleri occurs naturally in freshwater bodies, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs, and in soil,” the CDC website advised. “Though the risk is low, people should always assume there is a risk for infection whenever entering warm fresh water.” Occasionally, the organism is found in swimming pools or splash pads or even aquatic recreational sites like surf parks if they are “poorly maintained or don’t have enough chlorine in them,” the CDC reported. The ADHS advised recreational swimmers to take precautions when playing around warm bodies of fresh water, including:
  • Avoid jumping or diving into bodies of warm fresh water, especially during the summer.
  • Pinch your nose, use nose clips, or keep your head above water when in any body of warm water.
  • Avoid putting your head under water in hot springs or any other untreated geothermal waters.
  • Avoid digging in or stirring up sediment in shallow, warm fresh water. Amoebas are more likely to live in sediment at the bottom of lakes, ponds, and rivers.
The CDC said symptoms of the infection include headache, nausea or vomiting, a sudden onset of fever or a stiff neck, “particularly if they have been in warm fresh water recently.” Anyone who thinks they have the symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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