A 7-year-old child in In Red Bluff , Northern California, has died from a rare and deadly brain infection – primary amebic meningoencephalitis- he contracted after swimming in a freshwater lake in Tehama County. The infection is caused by a microscopic amoeba that is found in warm freshwater bodies, such as lakes, rivers and hot springs. Only 10 cases of this infection have been reported in California since the early 1970s, officials said. People become infected with Naegleria fowleri when water contaminated with the amoeba goes up their nose. From there, the organism can enter the brain and destroy brain tissue. The survival rate is less than 3%. In rare instances, people can get infected if warm water from a swimming pool that has not been adequately treated with chlorine.
In the first stage of infection, patients report having a severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. As the infection worsens, they can develop a stiff neck and experience seizures or hallucinations. Some factors can contribute to survival, like early detection of the infection and treatment with an experimental drug called miltefosine, along with other aggressive treatments to reduce brain swelling.The only way to prevent Naegleria fowleri infection is to avoid swimming in bodies of freshwater or using nose clips to prevent water from going up their nose.