Brain-destroying amoeba confirmed in Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – State health officials confirmed a rare brain-destroying amoeba is in the Sunshine State.

The Florida Department of Health on Friday announced the confirmed case of Naegleria fowleri -- a microscopic single-celled amoeba that can infect and destroy the brain. It’s usually fatal, the DOH said.

The organism infects and destroys the brain and usually proves fatal to those who catch it. The amoeba is commonly found in warm freshwater as well as in soil.

It usually infects people when the contaminated water enters the body through the nose. A person cannot get infected with this kind of amoeba by swallowing contaminated water.

The warning signs are subtle initially but symptoms to pay attention to include severe frontal headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. As the infection progresses serious complications arise including stiff neck, seizures, altered mental status, and hallucinations, and coma.

While the amoeba has been confirmed, the chances of getting infected are low. Since 1962, there have only been 37 reported cases of this in Florida.

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