Home Health News Brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri kills 10-year-old Texas girl

Brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri kills 10-year-old Texas girl

9 min read

  • A 10-year-old Texas girl has been killed by Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba.
  • She had gone swimming within the Brazos River earlier this month.
  • The amoeba causes a uncommon mind an infection known as main amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) that is virtually all the time lethal — it has a fatality price of greater than 97%.
  • This is the 147th case of Naegleria fowleri within the US since 1962; solely 4 folks have survived.
  • These amoebas may be present in freshwater lakes, rivers, and sizzling springs, and enter the mind via the nostril.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for extra tales.

Ten-year-old Lily Mae Avant died final night time on the Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas after an an infection attacked her mind tissue.

On September 9, Avant reportedly complained of a headache and was despatched dwelling from college with a fever. Her mother and father rushed her to the hospital the next morning after Avant was unresponsive, in accordance with a Facebook publish by her cousin Wendy Scott. Doctors finally concluded that she’d contracted a lethal mind an infection known as main amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

PAM is attributable to Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba that may be present in heat freshwater all over the world. Local NBC affiliate KCEN reported that Avant had gone swimming within the Brazos River close to their Valley Mills dwelling over Labor Day weekend.

A view of the Brazos River in Parker County, Texas.
Leaflet/Wikimedia Commons

The an infection causes intense mind swelling and is virtually all the time deadly— it has a fatality price of greater than 97%. Of the 147 documented instances within the US since 1962, solely 4 folks have survived.

Read More:A Florida man died after dropping 25% of his pores and skin to flesh-eating micro organism. Experts say the infections will turn out to be extra widespread as ocean water warms.

Earlier this yr, a 59-year-old North Carolina man died of the an infection after swimming at a water park. In October 2018, a California boy contracted the amoeba after getting into a sizzling spring within the Eastern Sierras, in accordance with a CDC report. His signs set in 12 days after he’d gone swimming, and he died three days later.

Naegleria fowleri enters our mind via the nostril

Naegleria fowleri just isn’t present in saltwater; reasonably, it is commonest in freshwater lakes, rivers, and sizzling springs. The amoeba prefers excessive water temperatures, as much as 115 levels Fahrenheit.

Infections usually happen after folks go swimming in these our bodies of water. When the sediment in a lake or river will get disrupted, the amoebas are stirred into the water, which swimmers can then soak up via their noses. The amoeba then makes use of the olfactory nerve emigrate to the mind. Infections have additionally been recognized to happen after swimmers inhaled inadequately chlorinated pool water.

People cannot get contaminated from swallowing contaminated water, nonetheless.

A swimming gap in Cumnock, North Carolina.
Donald Lee Pardue/Flickr

Toxicologist Bill Sullivan wrote in The Conversation that the amoebas settle in our brains as a result of they’re moist and heat, similar to their perfect habitat.

“But the brain doesn’t have bacteria for the amoeba to eat, so the organism attacks brain cells for nutrients,” he wrote.

As the parasite eats the mind, our physique’s immune system fights again, which causes the extraordinary swelling and irritation in our skulls, Sullivan added. The strain from this swelling finally interrupts the mind’s connection to the spinal twine.

The an infection causes vomiting, seizures, mind swelling, and demise

Initial signs of PAM can seem as much as 9 days after an infection, and embody headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting. Later signs can embody stiff neck, confusion, loss of steadiness, seizures, hallucinations, and coma. After signs manifest, the an infection progresses quickly and often causes demise inside about 5 days.

“The initial symptoms can easily be mistaken for a less serious illness, costing valuable treatment time,” Sullivan mentioned.

There isn’t any fast diagnostic take a look at for the amoeba, he added, so sufferers are sometimes handled for viral or bacterial meningitis at first as an alternative. That was the case for Avant.

By the time the an infection is recognized, it’s usually too late for sufferers, since “the presence of the parasite leads to rapid and irrevocable destruction of critical brain tissue,” Sullivan wrote.

This is the 36th case reported within the US since 2009

Avant’s was the 147th case of PAM reported within the US within the final 57 years. Only 4 of these sufferers survived — one in 1978, two in 2013, and one in 2016.

Between 2009 and 2018, 36 PAM infections had been reported within the US. Of these instances, 32 folks had been contaminated after swimming in leisure water, three had been contaminated after cleansing their nasal passages with faucet water that turned out to be contaminated, and one person was contaminated by contaminated faucet water used on a yard slip-n-slide, in accordance with the CDC.

A map of states by which instances of Naegleria fowleri had been reported via 2018.

Typically, most Naegleria fowleri instances happen in southern states, with greater than half of all infections reported in Texas and Florida.

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