What is Naegleria fowleri? Arkansas resident dies of amoeba


An Arkansas resident died after being infected with the brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, officials say.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

An Arkansas resident is dead after being infected by a brain-eating amoeba traced to a country club’s splash pad, officials say.

The Arkansas Department of Health said an investigation revealed a person was infected with Naegleria fowleri at the Country Club of Little Rock splash pad.

The health department did not identify the person who died, but KARK reported the victim was a child.

Officials said the country club closed its splash pad and has been cooperative with the health department. There is no risk to the public, as the infection cannot spread from person to person.

Only about three people get infected annually with Naegleria fowleri in the United States, the health department said, adding that this was the first case in Arkansas since 2013.

Naegleria, often found in warm fresh water, infects people when water containing the amoeba enters a person’s body through their nose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Naegleria fowleri is the only species of the amoeba that infects people.

“The amoeba then travels up the nose to the brain, where it destroys the brain tissue and causes a devastating infection,” the CDC said, adding that the infection is often fatal.

The majority of Naegleria fowleri infections occur in boys 14 years old and younger, though the reasons are unclear, according to the CDC.

Symptoms of the disease “progresses rapidly and usually causes death within about 5 days,” officials said.

Mike Stunson covers real-time news for McClatchy. He is a 2011 Western Kentucky University graduate who has previously worked at the Paducah Sun and Madisonville Messenger as a sports reporter and the Lexington Herald-Leader as a breaking news reporter.
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