Brain-Eating Amoeba Kills Southern Indiana Man
The naeglaria amoeba (photo courtesy of the CDC)
The brain-eating amoeba we first told you about in a story on the deaths of two users of Neti Pots is the same amoeba that killed a man in Southern Indiana.
State health officials confirm that the naeglaria amoeba killed 30-year-old Waylon Abel of Loogootee last month. Abel is believed to have contracted the amoeba in a lake where he was teaching his young daughter how to swim - the girl has shown no signs of infection so far.
Naeglaria is the same ameoba that led to the deaths of two people in Louisiana who had used unfiltered tap water in their Neti Pots when rinsing their sinuses. Dr. Karen Roos, a neurologist with the I-U Neuroscience Center, says infections are extremely rare but are almost always fatal.
The amoeba is naturally found in fresh water, usually ponds and lakes. The Centers for Disease Control says only eight-to-ten infections are reported nationwide each year, and Roos says the amoeba is more common in the warmer waters of the South. But given the hot summer we have had, Roos says it isn't surprising it showed up in Indiana, and says it has been found as far north as Minnesota in the past.
Naeglaria can enter the body through the nose or the ear, and Roos says it goes straight to the brain from there. Those who are infected show symptoms similar to the flu or meningitis, and Roos says by the time doctors discover the infection is from naeglaria, it is usually too late to save the patient.
Roos says swimming in chlorinated water is recommended, but if you choose to swim in a lake or a pond, she says you should wear a nose clip to keep water out.
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» Indy Doctor Explains Recent Neti Pot Deaths (9-4-12)