A Nevada resident, who was younger than 18 years old, passed away due to a rare infection with a brain-eating amoeba, according to the Southern Nevada Health District, which reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that naegleria fowleri was confirmed as the reason for the individual’s illness.
According to a Southern Nevada Health District investigation, the deceased person may have encountered the deadly organism on the Arizona side of Lake Mead and then began to experience symptoms about a week later.
“My condolences go out to the family of this young man,” said Dr. Fermin Leguen, District Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District. “While I want to reassure the public that this type of infection is an extremely rare occurrence, I know this brings no comfort to his family and friends at this time.”
This marks the first confirmed death due to naegleria fowleri from potential exposure at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, according to the National Park Service.
“The National Park Service, working with the NPS Office of Public Health, has made the decision to continue to allow recreational swimming at Lake Mead National Recreation as the organism exists naturally and commonly in the environment but disease is extremely rare,” noted U.S Public Health Service Officer Dr. Maria Said. “However, recreational water users should always assume there is a risk anytime they enter warm fresh water.”
A CDC webpage about the brain-eating amoeba notes that the organism is found in warm freshwater and soil — when water with such an amoeba gets into an individual’s nose and then moves up to the brain, the result can be fatal.
“Naegleria fowleri infects people when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose. This typically happens when people go swimming, diving, or when they put their heads under fresh water, like in lakes and rivers. The ameba 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,” according to the CDC.
The initial symptoms of PAM generally begin around five days following infection but can begin within one to 12 days, according to the CDC.
“Symptoms may include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting. Later symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, seizures, hallucinations, and coma. After symptoms start, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within about 5 days (but death can happen within 1 to 18 days),” the CDC states.
Here is a news report from Fox5 Las Vegas about the boy’s death:
SNHD: Juvenile dies from brain-eating amoeba at Lake Mead