‘Brain-eating’ amoeba may be the cause of US child’s death – News

A child died this week on suspicion of having contracted a rare infection caused by a parasite known as a “brain-eating amoeba”, after swimming in a river in the US state of Nebraska, officials say.

If confirmed, it would be the second death from this cause in the north-central part of the country in recent weeks, which raises questions about whether there is influence of climate change on the proliferation of this type of parasite.

The Douglas County Health Department, based in Omaha, Nebraska, said Wednesday that doctors believe the boy died of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a usually fatal infection caused by the amoeba. naegleria fowleri.

You Initial symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting and progress to stiff neck, loss of balance, hallucinations and seizures.

Health officials believe the child contracted the disease on Aug. 8 while swimming in the Elkhorn River, located a few miles west of Omaha. Symptoms started five days later. He was hospitalized 48 hours after the onset of symptoms. Almost ten days later, he died. The victim’s name was not released.


Usually the amoeba is found in the southern states because it thrives in water temperatures above 30°C. “However, infections have also been detected in the north in recent years, including two cases in Minnesota since 2010,” Lindsey Huse, director of health for Douglas County, told a news conference.

“Our regions are getting warmer. As they get warmer, the water gets warmer and the water levels drop due to drought, and you can see that this organism is much happier and tends to thrive in these situations,” he said. Lindsey.

Last month, a Missouri resident died of the same infection, possibly caused by the amoeba in Lake Three Fires in southwest Iowa. Authorities in that state closed the lake beach for nearly three weeks as a preventative measure.

People usually become infected when water containing the amoebas comes into contact with their body through their nostrils while swimming or diving in lakes and rivers. Other sources have also been identified, such as contaminated tap water in a Houston-area city in 2020.


Infections are rare, but lethality is high

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that infections caused by naegleria fowleri are rare — about three cases a year in the country — but he warns that they are extremely deadly.

Between 1962 and 2021, 154 such occurrences were reported in the United States and only four patients survived, according to the CDC. Nearly half of those cases, 71, were recorded between 2000 and 2021. Texas and Florida have the most infections, with 39 and 37, respectively.

According to the National Water Information System, the surface water temperature near where the boy was swimming was between 30ºC and 33ºC.

Jacob Lorenzo Morales, a researcher at the University of La Laguna in the Canary Islands who studied the amoeba naegleria fowleri, said that the increase in infections since 2000 can be attributed to two factors: better understanding and diagnosis of the disease and rising temperatures in water bodies, which provide an environment considered perfect for the proliferation of the amoeba. (With international agencies)


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