In a follow-up on the Naegleria fowleri, or “brain-eating amoeba” case reported in South Florida last week, Broward County health officials say the patient is hospitalized and receiving treatment and the investigation is ongoing.
According to an emailed statement to Outbreak News Today, Florida Department of Health in Broward County Public Information Officer, Candy Sims writes, The Florida Department of Health confirmed a local case of Naegleria fowleri in an individual from Broward County on Tuesday. The case was not contracted in the City of Weston.
Sims adds that health officials continue to investigate the location and have notified all persons with risk of exposure.
Naegleria fowleri is a pathogenic amoeba found in warm or hot freshwater like lakes, rivers and hot springs. It is also possible to get it from dirty unchlorinated or under-chlorinated swimming pools. This parasite is found worldwide and in the United States, it is found mainly in the southern-tier states, although cases have been reported as north as Minnesota.
People typically get it by swimming, jumping or playing in freshwater and get the water up their nose. From there the parasite travels to the brain and spinal cord and necrotizes or basically eats brain tissue. The disease is known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) and it has a very rapid progression. Typical symptoms may start after a day or two; headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. Later symptoms may include seizures, irrational behavior, hallucinations and finally coma and death. The course of the disease typically last about a week. Because the symptoms are very similar to bacterial meningitis, PAM may not even be considered in the diagnosis.
Fortunately, it’s a pretty rare disease, with only approximately 40 cases in the past decade. Unfortunately, treatment is largely unsuccessful with a fatality rate at 98 percent.