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Second death in Midwest suspected of brain-eating amoeba

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Associated Press

Associated Press

Margery A. Beck and Josh Funk

Brain-eating amoeba infection.
Brain- Eating amoeba infection. Photo by 3D illustration /Postmedia

Omaha, Nebraska — Child may have died of rare infection A death from a brain-eating amoeba after swimming in a river in eastern Nebraska is the second such death in the Midwest this summer, according to health officials. The question arises as to whether is involved.

Doctors believe the child died of primary amebic meningoencephalitis, the Douglas County Department of Health, based in Omaha, Nebraska, said Wednesday. believes the child came into contact with an amoeba while swimming in the Elkhorn River just west of Omaha on Sunday.

Authorities have not released the identity of the child.

Last month, a Missourian resident died from the same infection, likely caused by an amoeba, in Southwestern Iowa's Three Fire Lake. Iowa officials closed the lake's beaches for nearly three weeks as a precaution.

It is usually contracted when amoeba-laden water enters the body through the nose while swimming or diving in a lake or river. Other sources have been documented, including contaminated tap water in Houston-area cities in 2020. Symptoms include fever, headache, nausea or vomiting, progression to stiff neck, loss of balance, hallucinations and seizures.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Naegleria fowleri infections are rare, with about three cases occurring each year in the United States, but these infections are overwhelming. fatal to

According to the CDC, the United States reported 154 cases from 1962 to 2021, with only four survivors. Of those, 71 cases were reported between 2000 and 2021. Texas and Florida recorded the most infections with 39 and 37 cases, respectively. Amoebas are usually found in southern states because they thrive in waters warmer than 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius). ).

But infections have moved north in recent years, including his two cases in Minnesota since 2010, Dr. Lindsey Hughes, Douglas County Health Commissioner, said at a press conference Thursday. It pointed out.

"Our area is getting warmer," she said. "We find that when things warm, water warms, and water levels drop due to drought, this organism is happier and grows more commonly in those conditions."

National According to the Water Information System, the surface water temperature near where the child was swimming was 86-92 degrees.

Jacob Lorenzo Morales, a researcher at the University of La Laguna in the Canary Islands who studies Naegleria fowleri, said Thursday that the increase in infections since 2000 is due to two factors. said it can be. Rising temperatures in waters that provide a "perfect environment" for amoebas to thrive.

Sutherland Masiver, a researcher studying amoebas at the Center for Discovery and Brain Sciences at Edinburgh Medical College in Scotland, said that not all infections have been reported and have been reported to date. The 430 reported cases worldwide are almost certainly underestimated. And scientists cannot say with any certainty that the Nebraska case is directly attributable to climate change.

These two researchers of hers said, "Naegleria Fourelli is an emerging parasite?” We examined the factors behind the increase in reported cases.

Health officials advise freshwater swimmers to cover their noses, keep their heads out of the water, and avoid activities such as water skiing and tubing that can push water into their noses, eyes, and mouths. Avoiding activities is recommended. Drinking contaminated water will not infect you.

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