Brain Eating Amoeba Kills Swimmers

A rare but deadly brain infection that occurs after swimming in warm fresh water has killed two children this month.

Sandra Hughes talks to experts about this rare brain eating amoeba.

A deadly brain infection killed nine-year-old Christian Strickland.

A week after going to a fishing camp near his Richmond, Virginia home he complained of a headache.

Christian's mother, Amber Strickland says, "The next morning he doesn't want to get out of bed, he's falling asleep and in an instant and he looks at me like he's trying to figure out who I am.

It was the same story in Florida where 16-year-old Courtney Nash went swimming in a river and died a week later.

The killer is a microscopic amoeba living in freshwater lakes, rivers and hot springs.

Dr. Michael Beach, CDC Associate Director for Healthy Water says, "Unfortunately when people get into the water if they're swimming they can potentially stir up the sediment and this amoeba essentially goes up the nose and then causes a severe brain infection."

The illness is rare killing about 117 people since the early 1960's.

The infection attacks brain tissue and kills quickly. Usually in one to 12 days.

But it isn't contagious.

So the centers for disease control recommends if a person has headaches , a stiff neck and vomiting after being in warm fresh water to contact a doctor immediately.

The CDC also suggests to hold your nose or wear nose clips, try not to stir up sediment while swimming. And avoid going into shallow warm water.

Dr. Michael Beach, CDC Associate Director for Healthy Water says, "We think this is really related to water temperature. So you see it in the southern tier states at the bottom of the U.S."

But doctors stress these illnesses are rare and say bacteria in your backyard pool are much more likely to make you sick

Every year there are between 0 and 8 cases of this deadly illness.

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  • by Jasper Location: Bonifay on Feb 19, 2012 at 05:41 PM
    My lord, I've never heard of this before. I have swam in creeks and lakes here in Florida for 45 years. This is so bad, scares me to think of my grandchildren swimming in the rivers and creeks.I've always thought about snakes and alligators never anything like a brain eatting thing that goes up your nose and kills you.
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