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 line with the Douglas County Health Department.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conducting additional testing to verify the an infection, in line with the well being division. Health officers declined to offer extra details about the child, equivalent to age or gender.
The microscopic, single-celled organism is often known as the “brain-eating amoeba.” It may cause a uncommon however almost 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 line with the CDC.
If confirmed, the child’s dying could be the primary identified dying from Naegleria fowleri within the state’s historical past, in line with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
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Naegleria fowleri is current in lots of freshwater sources equivalent to rivers, lakes and streams and is being recognized farther north as beforehand cooler areas turn into 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, stated Dr. Matthew Donahue, state epidemiologist.
Infections sometimes happen later in the summertime in hotter water with slower circulate, notably in July, August and September, he stated.
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 stated limiting alternatives for freshwater to get into the nostril is the easiest way to scale back the danger of an infection. Behaviors related to an infection embrace diving or leaping into the water, submerging the top underwater or different actions equivalent to waterskiing or high-speed tubing that may trigger water to forcefully go up the nostril.
Swimmers can scale back their danger by protecting their heads out of the water, utilizing nostril clips or plugging their noses when going underwater, together with in scorching 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 suggest 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 danger of an infection.
Symptoms of an an infection normally happen from one to 12 days afterward, in line with Douglas County well being officers. They might embrace 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 stated 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.”