By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
A young child from Tehama County in northern California has contracted the “brain-eating amoeba”, Naegleria fowleri, according to a Red Bluff Daily News report last week.
The child, described only as “younger than 10 years old” is believed to have contracted the parasite swimming in a freshwater lake in Tehama County, but the specific location has not been disclosed.
The diagnosis was confirmed by laboratory testing performed by the California Department of Public Health. The condition of the child was not disclosed.
Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis, or PAM, is the disease caused by Naegleria fowleri, the amoeba that is found in almost all untreated, fresh surface water and in soil. The amoeba thrives in freshwater that is warmer than 80 degrees and stagnant or slow-moving.
PAM only infects people when water containing the amoeba enters through the nose, usually from diving or jumping into freshwater. The infection cannot be spread from person to person or by drinking contaminated water. The amoeba travels up the nose and makes its way into the brain along the olfactory nerve, destroying brain tissue.
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Those infected with PAM will usually start showing symptoms about 5 days after the infection. It can often be mistaken for the flu or bacterial meningitis, as early symptoms include headache, fever, nausea or vomiting and can then progress to loss of balance, a stiff neck, seizures and hallucinations. The disease progresses quickly once the symptoms start and usually causes death within two weeks of the initial infection.
According to the CDC, through 2019, California reported 9 Naegleria fowleri cases.