Brain-eating Amoeba Claims a 4-year-old’s Life

    September 7, 2013
    Erika Watts
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Parents will want to hold their little ones tighter after learning of how a 4-year-old contracted a deadly brain infection doing something their kids do every summer–playing on a water toy.

The child’s identity hasn’t been released, but it has been confirmed that the Mississippi boy contracted the brain-eating Naegleria fowleri (N. fowleri) amoeba while visiting a home in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana in August. Officials say that the water at the Louisiana home tested positive for the amoeba, which they believe infected the child while he was playing. “The child contracted it by playing for a very long period of time on a slip n’ slide in the front yard of the residence they were visiting,” Parish President Dave Peralta said. The parish’s water supply didn’t test positive for the amoeba, but St. Bernard Parish is treating it to be on the safe side.

According to WebMD, N. fowleri amoeba is found in fresh water all over the earth, including lakes, ponds, mud puddles and untreated swimming pools. While the amoeba is considered common, the possibility of contracting the brain-eating organism is rare. Even if the amoeba is found in one’s water supply, this doesn’t mean they will necessarily die. N. fowleri amoeba only reaches the brain through the nose, not by drinking the water.

The brain-eating amoeba only affects a handful of people per year, but once it infects the brain it is almost always lethal. “Ninety-nine percent of people who get it die,” Dr. Dirk Haselow of the Arkansas Department of Health said. Symptoms of the infection include vomiting, fever, headache and loss of appetite. From the onset, the primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) infection caused by the amoeba may seem like a less serious illness. After the infection sets in, however, seizures and hallucinations are common, which may be eventually followed by a coma. Death usually occurs within 12 days. Drugs are being tested to treat the infection, but it is rare that they actually work.

Florida officials issued a warning following a 12-year-old boy’s death from the same infection in August. Should parents think twice about letting their kids play in untreated water during the summer?

Image via YouTube


    These kinds of toys, slip n slide, outdoor kiddie pools, etc should carry a warning on the label about this bateria. Most adults probably have never heard of it and don’t have a clue that it exists, nor what to do to prevent it.

    • John

      What are you talking about? The slip and slide didn’t kill this kid, the water did.

    • http://na anon

      So how do you prevent it or kill the amoeba on a slip and slide or in drinking water or anywhere else for that matter?

      • REID

        I’m thinking a good regular scrub down with a soap / bleach solution would decrease the amobea ??

        • names

          It’s in the FUCKING WATER DUMBASS.

        • http://na anon

          Yes, hopefully. I just read proper chlorination of water in swimming pools works and using a nose plug when swimming under water in pools works, since the amoeba must enter through the nose to get to the brain…but I’m skeptical about that…what about through the ears…and many pool owners use non chlorine products anymore! DO they work? They also said the number of cases keep increasing each year…that’s scary!

          • JS

            It’s through the nose only. To get to the brain, the parasite penetrates cribriform plate, which is the barrier between the nasal passage and the brain. The cribriform plate is surprisingly thin, which is why it can only reach the brain through the nose.

      • carol hills

        I use home made colloidal silver. It can be purchased in health food stores and on internet. I make my own. NASA uses it in all space programs and experiments. Natural, not like bleach but, bleach will work, I think.

    • Bart Hugens

      It’s not a bacteria. It’s an amoeba. That’s why antibiotics are of no use to combat it. We have no effective anti-amoebic agents, since those same chemicals (such as chlorine) also kill human cells and then humans.

      • http://na anonymous

        Pick your poison. I’ll take the chlorinated water!

      • http://na anon

        Boiling your water for a certain period of time also works!

    • Shawn Marie

      How many people do you think actually read the boxes that toys come in? Probably not very many.

  • http://na grandma

    Grandma really did know best when she said, “Now don’t put anything up your nose!”

    • shunda

      I don’t think you should be cracking jokes especially when someone has lost their child. GROW UP AND HAVE A HEART!!!

      • http://na grandma

        To make my point clear, it was not meant as a joke, in fact, there were two tragic neti pot deaths in Louisiana that were caused from using impure water for nasal irrigation. This, alone, makes it worthwhile to stress neti pot safety. The two neti pot users who died, a 51-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man, used neti pot water straight from the tap. Tap water can carry this amoeba, but if you drink it, supposedly it won’t hurt you. But what if you are showering and get water up your nose? The amoeba can only get to the brain up through the nasal passages!!!! So the easiest way to stay safe right now is…don’t put anything up your nose, seriously!

  • Eddie

    In other breaking news it seems after further investigation of this infection it started in DC long ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Shawn Marie

      How brazen and inconsiderate of you to post something so stupid and unnecessary after a little boy has died from this horrible parasitic infection. What is wrong with you?

    • Grace

      A child is dead and you’re making stupid political jokes. Nice.

  • http://webpro frank wayne

    We have a water well, an old style tiled well with a submersible pump. Should I be concerned about this being in my water well??

    • josh

      Okay I am a biochemist and Naegleria is an amoeba that can only harm you if it gets up into your nose or ears. Drinking it will not affect you at all and if this kid was infected then all water is possible though I would think well water would be more safe its water that comes from lakes that is more of a danger.

  • hungy

    Did god create the brain eating amoeba or did satan?

    • hollywoodnc

      Neither…they don’t exist.