By Press Release  @infectiousdiseasenews

Dr. Christopher Rice, an Assistant Research Scientist at the University of Georgia’s College of Pharmacy, has received a foundation grant to continue his research on Naegleria fowleri, a single-celled living organism that causes the brain eating disease Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM).

Naegleria (cropped)/CDC

Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis targets the central nervous system and is almost always fatal. Out of the 148 people in the United States who have been diagnosed with this disease since 1920, only four have survived. On average, people die within five days of becoming infected.

Typically, Naegleria fowleri is contracted while swimming in warm, stagnant freshwater. People become infected with this amoeba when water is forced up the nose and migrates to the brain along the olfactory nerve. Signs of an infection include a high fever, severe headaches, neck stiffness, confusion, nausea/vomiting, and seizures, among other similar symptoms.

Read more at University of Georgia

In 2014, Jordan Cole Smelski contracted Naegleria fowleri while swimming in hot springs in Costa Rica. Jordan began experiencing headaches and nausea two days later. Three days after his symptoms started, he was admitted to the hospital, where he was originally diagnosed with viral meningitis. The next day, he began experiencing hallucinations and seizures. He was transferred to the ICU, where doctors then discovered the amoeba in the brain. Seven days and 12 hours after first contracting the amoeba, Jordan Cole Smelski died from Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis.

Following his death, Jordan’s parents, Steve and Shelly Smelski, created a foundation to honor their son. The Jordan Smelski Foundation was established with the goals of spreading awareness, providing education, advocating for research, and giving back to the community. Since 2014, the foundation has raised more than $107,000 to fund research on Naegleria fowleri.

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