Brain-Eating Amoeba Found in Freshwater Lakes, Health Officials Warn

The Georgia Department of Health confirmed on Wednesday that a resident died after contracting a rare amoeba that eats brains.

Health officials said that the resident was likely infected by swimming in a freshwater pond or lake in Georgia.

“Naegleria Fowleri”, a rare infection, destroys brain tissue and causes swelling of the brain. It usually results in death. Amoebae live in soil, warm freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds, as well as hot springs. The amoeba is not present in saltwater, and it is also not found in properly treated swimming pools or drinking water.

Officials have not revealed where the victim is infected. Officials did not release any further information about the victim. This is the sixth infection to occur in Georgia since 1962.

Water-containing amoeba can cause infection when it goes up the nose. It is not transmitted from one person to another if it’s swallowed.

Health officials stated that the amoeba was naturally occurring and there was no way to control the levels. The number and location of amoebas can change over time in the same body of water.

Infections can cause severe headaches, fever, nausea, and vomiting. They may progress to stiff necks, seizures, and comas that could lead to death. The symptoms usually appear five days after the infection, but they can occur anywhere between one and twelve days later. The symptoms progress quickly and can lead to death within five days.

Limiting the amount of water going up your nose can help reduce the risk of infection for people who swim. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against diving or jumping into freshwater bodies, and to keep your nose closed and your head above the water.