For the past month, 6-year-old Leland Shoemake has been in the battle for his life against a relatively rare, microscopic invader that has landed him in a Georgia hospital. The Pike County child contracted the free-living amoeba, Balamuthia mandrillaris, which since 1993, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports only some 70 cases in the US.

Leland, currently admitted at an Atlanta-area hospital, has seen numerous specialists and been given medications that carry terrible side effects. It has been reported that treatment with the experimental drug, miltefosine, is being tried.

The latest update concerning his condition was posted Sep. 21:

Leland has gotten worse. He’s being kept sedated but his pressures keep spiking. They did a ct and it shows swelling in the brain and decreased overall quality of his brain. Also it looked like the infection has gotten worse. I’m broken.

Balamuthia is one of the causes of granulomatous amebic encephalitis (GAE), a serious infection of the brain and spinal cord.  The amoeba is thought to enter the body when soil containing Balamuthia comes in contact with skin wounds and cuts, or when dust containing Balamuthia is breathed in or gets in the mouth. The Balamuthia amoebas can then travel to the brain through the blood stream and cause GAE.

LISTEN: Amoeba awareness, part 2: Balamuthia

To support Leland and his family, visit their Facebook page and to help the family out financially, visit their GoFundMe Page

The thoughts and prayers of the entire Outbreak News Today staff go out to Leland and family.