Dr. Sandra Gompf is an Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of South Florida. In addition, sadly she is the mother who lost a young son to the “brain-eating amoeba”, Naegleria fowleri.


Dr Gompf and her husband lost their 10-year-old son, Philip to the parasite in 2009.

Naegleria fowleri  is a free-living microscopic amoeba (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 (e.g. lakes, rivers, and hot springs) and soil.

Naegleria fowleri usually infects people 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 is usually fatal. Infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. In very rare instances, Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water) enters the nose.

Dr. Gompf joined host Robert Herriman on the show this week to discuss the amoeba, Philip’s infection, awareness campaigns she is involved in, new developments in diagnostics and treatment and some prevention advise for other parents.

Check out their website Amoeba-Season.com for a plethora of great information on Naegleria fowleri and to donate to the USF Philip T. Gompf Memorial Fund

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Listen to the podcast below:



The Outbreak News This Week Radio Show airs every Sunday at 5 pm ET in the Tampa Bay area on AM 860 The Answer and online HERE

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