A Douglas County child died this week from a suspected an infection with the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, which can have been acquired whereas swimming within the Elkhorn River, in accordance with the Douglas County Health Department.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conducting additional testing to verify the an infection, in accordance with the well being division. Health officers declined to offer extra details about the child, reminiscent of age or gender.
The microscopic, single-celled organism is often known as the “brain-eating amoeba.” It could cause a uncommon however practically at all times deadly mind an infection known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, when water containing the amoeba rushes up the nostril and reaches the mind, in accordance with the CDC.
If confirmed, the child’s demise could be the primary identified demise from Naegleria fowleri within the state’s historical past, in accordance with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
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Naegleria fowleri is current in lots of freshwater sources reminiscent of rivers, lakes and streams and is being recognized farther north as beforehand cooler areas turn out to be hotter and drier.
While tens of millions of individuals are uncovered to freshwater sources for recreation every year, fewer than eight infections are recognized within the U.S. every year, mentioned Dr. Matthew Donahue, state epidemiologist.
Infections usually happen later in the summertime in hotter water with slower move, notably in July, August and September, he mentioned.
A Missouri resident died after being contaminated with the organism whereas swimming in late June at Lake of Three Fires State Park in southwest Iowa. Iowa well being officers, working with the CDC, later confirmed the presence of the organism within the lake. Iowa officers closed a seashore on the park for a time however reopened it in late July after testing was full.
Douglas County well being officers urged residents to take precautions when uncovered to freshwater sources.
Donahue mentioned limiting alternatives for freshwater to get into the nostril is the easiest way to cut back the danger of an infection. Behaviors related to an infection embody diving or leaping into the water, submerging the pinnacle underwater or different actions reminiscent of waterskiing or high-speed tubing that may trigger water to forcefully go up the nostril.
Swimmers can cut back their threat by preserving their heads out of the water, utilizing nostril clips or plugging their noses when going underwater, together with in sizzling springs and different untreated heat waters. Swimmers additionally ought to keep away from digging or stirring up sediment on the backside of lakes or rivers.
People can not get contaminated by consuming contaminated water or by swimming in a swimming pool that has been been correctly cleaned and is maintained and disinfected.
According to state well being officers, the CDC usually doesn’t advocate testing untreated rivers and lakes for the organism as a result of it happens naturally and there’s no established relationship between detection and focus of the amoeba and threat of an infection.
Symptoms of an an infection often happen from one to 12 days afterward, in accordance with Douglas County well being officers. They might embody headache, fever and nausea or vomiting. Those signs might progress to stiff neck, confusion, seizures and different neurological disturbances.
“We can only imagine the devastation this family must be feeling,” Douglas County Health Director Lindsay Huse mentioned in a press release. “And our deepest condolences are with them. We can honor the memory of this child by becoming educated about the risk and then taking steps to prevent infection.”