Brain-eating amoeba kills Guilford County man; how to keep yourself safe

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A person from Guilford County has died from a brain-eating amoeba contracted at a water park in North Carolina, based on the state's department of health.

The man tested positive for Naegleria fowleri, a single-celled organism that's naturally found in warm freshwater, such as lakes and rivers, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHH) said in a statement.

However, engaging in extreme water sports can be fatal if the water is forced up the nose during water activities like diving or water-skiing, officials said. Infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels.

North Carolina epidemiologist Zack Moore offered sympathies to the victim's family while urging people to be aware of the amoeba.

"Naegleria fowleri usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose".

In very rare instances, Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water) enters the nose.

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But detecting the illness is notoriously hard, the CDC said, because it progresses so quickly, with signs beginning just days after contact. According to i The New York Times /i , out of 145 reported cases between 1962 and 2018, 141 sufferers have been killed.

Naegleria fowleri is commonly referred to as the "brain-eating amoeba" as it can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels. Most infections occur from exposure to contaminated recreational water.

How to stay safe from Brain-eating amoeba (Naegleria fowleri)?

Other symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. In the US, most infections occur in southern states, particularly during the summer months after it has been hot for prolonged periods, which raises the water temperature, NCDHH said.

Following Gray's fatal incident, health officials are working closely with Fantasy Lake Water Park on ways staff and visitors can take precautions to protect themselves against this deadly parasite in the future.

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