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Sixth person dies from brain-destroying amoeba in lake waters

A 14-year-old Phoneix boy died September 17 after picking up a killer amoeba while swimming in the warm shallows of a lake, the sixth death this year, reports The Associated Press.
The microscopic amoeba, Naegleria fowleri (nuh-GLEER-ee-uh FOWL’-erh-eye), enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain to feed, destroying brain tissue.
Attacks such as these are extremely rare but usually fatal. The Associated Press says six boys and young men have died this year in three states, with three cases in Florida, two in Texas and the most recent in Arizona.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Naegleria has killed 23 people in the United States from 1995 to 2004. The CDC knows of only several hundred cases globally since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.
Naegleria grazes off algae and bacteria in the sediment of lakes, hot springs, even dirty swimming pools, living almost everywhere.
People become infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom, according to Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational waterborne illnesses for the CDC. If the stirred-up water shoots up the nose – by, for instance, doing a cannonball off a cliff – the amoeba can latch onto the olfactory nerve.
Infected people tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers, showing signs of brain damage such as behavioral changes in the later stages, said Beach.
There is no good treatment, and people who have been attacked rarely survive, said Beach.
“Usually, from initial exposure it’s fatal within two weeks,? Beach said.
Some health officials have put their communities on high alert, telling people to stay away from warm, standing water.

The Associated Press:
http://www.startribune.com/484/story/1453251.html