Beware of Fatal Brain Infection While Swimming in Warm Fresh Water This Summer

Beware of Fatal Brain Infection While Swimming in Warm Fresh Water This Summer

With summer coming into full swing and the desire to take a dip in the lake, the last thing you want to hear is that there is a deadly, brain-eating amoeba called Naeglaria fowleri that you need to be aware of while swimming in fresh water. It sounds like something from a horror movie that would never happen in real life. However, while it is rare, the infection that comes from Naeglaria floweri, a single-cell organism living in rivers and lakes, is real and occurs mostly in the summer and in southern states.

According to USA Today, this rare, brain eating amoeba is 97% fatal. The infection is an extreme form of meningitis and has mostly been seen in people swimming in warm fresh water during the summer months. CBS News reported that at least 40 people in the US have died from this infection within the past decade. It is rare, but if infected, the likelihood of survival is minimal. Naeglaria floweri is contracted through the nose, not by drinking contaminated water. The first stage of symptoms are headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Then confusion, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations are typical. Most people infected die within 12 days.

The best way to steer clear of this deadly, brain-eating infection is by either avoiding going under while swimming in warm, fresh water or being sure to hold your nose anytime you go under. Be especially cautious this summer if you live in the South.


Dr. Steven Lipsky

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