2020 is turning into one for the books as a rare case of brain-destroying amoeba has been confirmed in the Tampa, Florida neighborhood.
On Friday (July 3), the Florida Department of Health announced the confirmation of Naegleria fowleri, a microscopic single-celled amoeba that is said to infect tissue and destroy the brain. While there have only been 37 reported cases of the amoeba in the state since 1962, the most recent discovery was located in Hillsborough Country. The amoeba is usually fatal. More specifically, there have been 143 reported cases of the infection in the United States, with only four survivors, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Since Naegleria fowleri is typically located in warm freshwater like lakes, rivers and the alike, the Florida Department of Health cautioned folks to swim in those sources due to the amoeba's potential presence, particularly when the water hits 115 degrees fahrenheit. It gets contracted when the contaminated water enters through a person's nose. "Adverse health effects on humans can be prevented by avoiding nasal contact with the waters, since the amoeba enters through nasal passages," the DOH said. Its peak season in Florida is in July, August and September.
Among the initial symptoms for the infection include severe frontal headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. Severe symptoms can also include stiff neck, seizures, altered mental status, hallucinations and coma. Additionally, the DOH cautioned people about potential exposure through a neti pot when rinsing congested sinuses. "Use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions," it said.
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