Brain-eating amoeba is back

Remember this story from last year? How to stop brain-eating amoeba from killing you? Well, it’s back.

An 11-year-old South Carolina girl has died after contracting a rare, often-fatal infection caused by an amoeba from a river where she was swimming. The girl, identified by local media as Hannah Collins of Beaufort, is believed to have been exposed to the brain-eating amoeba on July 24 in Charleston County’s Edisto River, the state health department said this week.

The amoeba typically infects people who are swimming or jumping in water feet-first, allowing it to go up their noses and travel to the brain.

Naegleria fowleri is commonly referred to as the ‘brain-eating amoeba’ as it can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

But the infection is very rare, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been about 35 cases reported in the U.S. in the last decade.

The single-celled organism is commonly found in warm freshwater, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs, as well as in soil.

It usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM, which is usually fatal.

Infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers.

In very rare instances, Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water) enters the nose.

You cannot get infected from swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria. The fatality rate for an infected person is more than 97 percent, according to the CDC.

Source: CDC 

The organism is not found in salt water, like the ocean, health officials said.