North Carolina health officials say a person has died from a rare brain-eating amoeba after swimming in a human made lake at a water park.
The HHS – State Department of Health and Human Resources stated in a news release Wednesday that the infection was caused by the amoeba commonly present in warm freshwater during the summer. The unnamed person became ill after swimming in Fantasy Lake Water Park in Cumberland County on July 12.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed it was caused by Naegleria fowleri.
Naegleria is an amoeba commonly found in warm freshwater (for instance, lakes, rivers, and hot springs) and soil. Only one species (type) of Naegleria infects people: Naegleria fowleri.
Naegleria fowleri infects individuals when water containing the amoeba enters the physique through the nostril. This disease typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. The Naegleria fowleri amoeba then travels up the nose to the brain where it destroys the brain tissue.
You cannot be infected with Naegleria fowleri by drinking contaminated water. In sporadic cases, Naegleria infections may additionally happen when contaminated water from different sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or contaminated tap water) enters the nostril. For example, when people submerge their heads or cleanse their noses throughout religious practices, and when people irrigate their sinuses (nose) using contaminated tap water. Naegleria fowleri has not been proven to spread via water vapor or aerosol droplets (such as shower mist or steam from a humidifier).