Monday, August 12, 2013

Brain-Eating Amoeba Found In Florida Water

Confirmed Case of Rare Fatal Disease Found In Rural Florida

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- A confirmed case of Naegleria fowleri, commonly called the "brain-eating amoeba"  has been reported in Glades County, Florida, a rural county in South Central Florida, said the Hendry-Glades Health Department this morning.

A spokesperson for the Hendry-Glades Health Department in LaBelle, Fl. in response to questions about the age of the infected person and probable water source of the amoeba said "For privacy rights, we cannot release any information regarding the confirmed case. Since the amoeba can be in any warm freshwater area, the exact source would not be able to be confirmed."

However, the victim is 12-year old Zachary Reyna from LaBelle who is in grave condition at Children's Hospital ICU unit in Miami. being treated for the very rare and usually fatal infection. On August 3rd, it is believed the deadly organism entered his body when he was playing a flooded drainage ditch near his home.

Naegleria fowleri infections are rare and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 infections were reported in the U.S. from 2003 to 2012. All were fatal. The infections occurred from exposure to contaminated recreational water.

Initial symptoms of the deadly infection in the brain usually start within 1 to 7 days after infection. The initial symptoms may include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting. Other symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly.

The amoeba (pictured above) is commonly found in warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals. Infections can happen 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 destroys brain tissue and is usually fatal.

Glades is a rural county on the west shore of Lake Okeechobee, the second largest freshwater lake in the U.S. and along the Caloosahatchee River which flows from the lake to Fort Myers and the Gulf of Mexico.
Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic amoeba which is a single-celled living organism and can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

Naegleria fowleri is found in many warm freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers in the United States, but mostly in southern-tier states. The low number of infections makes it difficult to know why a few people have been infected compared to the millions of other people that used the same or similar waters across the U.S.
Infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels. The peak season for this amoeba is July, August and September.

You cannot be infected with Naegleria fowleri by drinking contaminated water and the amoeba is not found in salt water, says the CDC.


The only way to prevent a Naegleria fowleri infection is not to participate in freshwater-related activities. You may reduce your risk by:
Limiting the amount of water going up your nose. Hold your nose shut, use nose clips, or keep your head above water when taking part in warm freshwater-related activities.
Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.
Avoid digging in, or stirring up, the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.

For more information about Naegleria fowleri, you can visit the Center For Disease Control website
and Fact sheet at:


  1. Anonymous4:43 PM

    WOW ! So scary ! Thanks for this well written article. We need to be informed , and sometimes it s difficult to find the awful truth about a subject . Knowledge is power and I appreciate you educating us .

  2. Anonymous2:14 AM

    Has the amoeba been found yet in the actual Caloosahatchee River? What about in the many canals that criss cross Cape Coral?