Health officials reported Wednesday that a youngster in Nebraska is thought to have perished from a rare form of brain-eating amoebia.
According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, if confirmed, it will be the first known Naegleria fowleri death in the state’s history.
The toddler may have acquired the virus on Sunday while swimming in Nebraska’s Elkhorn River. Douglas County includes the city of Omaha. According to the Douglas County Health Department, the infant fell ill shortly after and passed away this week. Additional testing is being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm.
The Douglas County health director, Dr. Lindsay Huse, issued a statement on Wednesday saying, “We can only image the pain this family must be facing, and our deepest condolences are with them.” By learning about the risk and taking action to reduce infection, we can pay tribute to this child’s memory.
A uncommon but dangerous amoeba called Naegleria fowleri inhabits warm freshwater environments like lakes, ponds, rivers, and hot springs. When water carrying the amoeba passes via the nose and into the brain, generally while swimming or diving, the single-celled organism can infect people. The CDC asserts that exposure to polluted water or swimming in properly chlorinated pools does not result in infection.
Over 97% of infections with Naegleria fowleri result in death. Since the amoeba was originally discovered in the 1960s, just four out of 154 known infected people in the United States have survived, according to the CDC.
As previously cooler places become warmer and drier, Naegleria fowleri is being found further north, prompting health officials in Nebraska to advise citizens to take measures.
“Infections often happen in July, August, and September when the water is warmer and moving more slowly. Although cases have lately been found further north, southern states still see the majority of cases “Dr. Matthew Donahue, the state epidemiologist for Nebraska, stated in a statement on Wednesday. “The greatest approaches to lower the risk of infection are to limit the opportunity for freshwater to enter into the nose.”
When the water temperature is high and the water level is low, health officials urge people to steer clear of activities involving water in warm freshwater basins. By keeping their heads out of the water and utilizing nose clips or nose plugs while submerged, people can lower their chance of contracting an infection. The sediment at the lake or river’s bottom shouldn’t be dug up or disturbed by swimmers.
For nasal irrigation or sinus flushing, patients should only use sterile, distilled, or lukewarm, previously boiled water, according to health officials.
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