A child in Nebraska has died after a suspected infection from a rare brain-eating amoeba typically found in freshwater lakes and rivers.
The boy, whose name and age have not been released, is the first known death in the state of Nebraska from the parasite, according to health officials.
Health officials believe the boy was exposed to Naegleria fowleri while swimming Aug. 8 in a shallow part of the Elkhorn River in Douglas County.
The symptoms began about five days after the boy’s exposure, and within 48 hours, the boy was admitted to an area hospital. The toddler died several days later from the infection, said Dr. Kari Neemann, a pediatric infectious disease physician and medical advisor for Douglas County.
Authorities said the boy was swimming normally when he was exposed. Naegleri fowleri enters the body through the nose and can travel to the brain and destroy brain tissue.
Federal health officials are working to confirm whether the case was a Naegleria fowleri infection, the Douglas County Health Department said.
“We can only imagine the devastation this family must feel, and our deepest condolences go out to them,” said Douglas County Health Director Lindsay Huse. in a sentence Wednesday.
“We can honor this child’s memory by educating ourselves about the risk and then taking steps to prevent infection.”
Last month, a Missouri swimmer believed to have contracted the amoeba while swimming off an Iowa beach died from the infection.
The swimmer became infected on July 7 after swimming in Three Fires Lakes in Taylor County, officials in Iowa said.
While the chances of becoming infected with the rare amoeba are low, health officials say people should take extra precautions when swimming in fresh water, such as lakes and rivers.
Symptoms of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis include severe headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, and seizures. These types of infection occur mainly during the summer months, between July and September, and in the southern states of the US, according to the CDC.
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