A 21-year-old Inyo County woman has died from the almost always lethal amoebic parasitic infection caused by Naegleria fowleri, according to a Reno Gazette Journal report.

brain eating amoeba
Naegleria fowleri

The resident of Bishop said she woke up from a nap on June 16 with a headache and was soon vomiting. When the symptoms wouldn’t go away after a day, she was taken to the ER at Northern Inyo Hospital. As her condition deteriorated, the yet unidentified woman was then sent to Renown Regional Medical Center, where she experienced cardiac arrest and died.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the diagnosis of Naegleria fowleri, the seventh known case in California.

Health officials say the woman contracted the amoeba on private property and the investigation s ongoing.

LISTEN:  Dr. Jennifer Cope, Medical Epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) talks about Naegleria

Naegleria fowleri (commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba”), 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 travelsto 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 arerare. 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.

You cannot be infected with Naegleria fowleri by drinking contaminated water and the amoeba is not found insalt water.

Initial symptoms of PAM usually start within 1 to 7 days after infection. The initial symptoms may include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting. Other symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, loss ofbalance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly.  For more infectious disease news and informationvisit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

In the US, more than 130 documented cases have been reported since the 1960s with only three known survivors.

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