FLORIDA, USA — Health officials warn locals to avoid nasal contact with water from taps and other sources after one person in Hillsborough County had contracted deadly brain-eating amoeba.
Fox news reported the Florida Department of Health had announced Friday that one patient in Hillsborough County has been infected with Naegleria fowleri, a water-borne,microscopic single-celled amoeba that attacks the brain.
The amoeba is commonly found in freshwater and enters the body through the nose. From there, it makes its way to the brain and “munches” away, causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
PAM is rare but fatal with death occurring from day 1 to 18 days from the onset of symptoms. Based on a study published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, only four people have survived out of 145 reported PAM cases between 1962 to 2018.
Late diagnosis is said to be the primary cause of the disease being undetected. Forbes.com reports symptoms that mark the first stage of the disease are usually headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. This can occur from one to nine days after the amoeba has gone into your nose. The headaches tend to be at the front of your head and can be quite severe.
The Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) indicates that even when the disease proceeds to its second stage of symptoms (stiff neck, seizures, altered mental status, hallucinations, and coma), it can be mistaken for bacterial meningitis. Misdiagnosis can delay possible treatments for PAM, which includes miltefosine, a drug that can kill the amoeba.
Officials of the US Department of Health have not released information on where and how the infections was contracted by the patient, or the patient’s condition but assured the public that the infection cannot be passed from person to person.
Officials urged the locals to avoid nasal contact with water from taps and open water such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals, where infections are more likely in the warmer summer months of July, August and September.
Fox news has enumerated the following recommendations from health officials:
- Avoid water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater, hot springs and thermally polluted water such as water around power plants.
- Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.
- Hold the nose shut or use nose clips when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers or hot springs.
- Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.
- Exposure to the amoeba may also occur when using neti pots to rinse one’s sinuses of cold/allergy-related congestion or conducting religious rituals with tap water. Use only boiled and cooled, distilled or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.