A Port Charlotte teen is currently hospitalized for an infection with the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, according to a NBC2 report.
The 13-year-old, identified as Caleb Ziegelbauer, is being treated with the amoeba protocol at Golisano’s Children’s Hospital.
From 1962-2021, Florida had seen 36 Naegleria fowleri cases, or nearly a quarter of the total cases (154) reported in the United States during this period.
Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic amoeba which is a single-celled living organism. It can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The amoeba is commonly found in warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals.
Infections can happen when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM (which destroys brain tissue) and is usually fatal. Infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels.
Naegleria fowleri infections are rare. Most infections occur from exposure to contaminated recreational water. Cases due to the use of neti pots and the practice of ablution have been documented.