Florida health officials confirmed a case of a brain-eating amoeba in Florida just before the 4th of July holiday weekend. The Florida Department of Health said the person was located near Tampa. This follows news that Florida is one of the states with a growing coronavirus case count.
The person contracted naegleria fowleri, a single-cell amoeba that can produce a rare infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The infection is rare but often fatal. Of 145 known cases between 1962 and 2018, 4 people have survived.
Speaking to AccuWeather, Dr. David Kaufman, professor, and chair at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in the Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology, said, “A brain infection due to this amoeba (Naegleria fowleri) is quite rare. It invades the brain usually by nasal absorption of warm to hotter lake or occasionally poorly chlorinated swimming pool water that is contaminated.” It’s only contracted through the nose.
Infection rates are low in Florida, but the Health Department issued a warning to residents close to Tampa to avoid nasal contact with open water including rivers, ponds, lakes, and canals.
Symptoms can show within 24 hours, says Kaufman and symptoms include significant headaches, stiff neck, fever, seizure, face, arm, and leg weakness.
“If after swimming in a warm to hot lake, or even if you have not done this, if there is a significant unrelenting, very painful headache especially associated with a stiff neck or fever or if a new neurological issue develops such as a newly developed seizure disorder, arm, face or leg weakness or loss of speech, consider rapid access to an emergency room,” Kaufman said.
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