Brain-attacking amoeba spurs warnings
August 6, 2008
RIVERSIDE, Calif. ” Health officials have issued warnings and guidelines for swimmers after the weekend death of a 9-year-old Lake Elsinore boy exposed to an amoeba that causes a rare and usually fatal brain infection.
The boy who died Saturday had been swimming in Lake Elsinore several times, and the amoeba is commonly found in similar warm freshwater lakes, but officials could not confirm where the child acquired the amoeba known as Naegleria fowleri, the Riverside County Department of Public Health announced Tuesday.
“The risk of infection is extremely low and is no different in Lake Elsinore than in any other warm-water lake,” said county public health officer Eric Frykman.
The boy was the first ever confirmed case of the infection in Riverside County. Just 33 cases were reported nationwide between 1998 and 2007.
Officials did not release the boy’s name.
The department recommended avoiding activities in fresh water when temperatures are high and water levels are low, avoiding stirring up sediment in shallow, warm water and avoiding water around hot springs and power plants.
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Symptoms caused by the amoeba include fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck and headaches.