Rare Brain-Destroying Amoeba Case Confirmed in Florida

On a typical morning in 2020, a warning was issued in Florida after rare infection case.
Derya Ozdemir

One person in Florida has been diagnosed with a case of what is commonly referred to as a brain-eating amoeba in Hillsborough Country, The Florida Department of Health (DOH) said in a statement.

The rare disease, known as Naegleria fowleri, enters the body through the nose and is a single-cell amoeba that attacks brain tissue. It is usually fatal.


Naegleria fowleri is found in warm freshwaters such as lakes, rivers, and ponds, but it is more common in southern states.

Only 4 survived out of 145 in the U.S.

There've only been 37 cases of it since 1962 in Florida and 145 in the U.S. Only four people of the known infected individuals have survived, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

July, August, and September are the peak season for the brain-eating amoeba, and it grows best at temperatures of 115 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Nasal contact with warm waters should be avoided

"Adverse health effects on humans can be prevented by avoiding nasal contact with the waters since the amoeba enters through nasal passages," the DOH said.

People should avoid "bodies of warm freshwater around power plants and shallow freshwater during periods of high water temperature", DOH recommended. Holding their nose shut or using nose clips during water activities were encouraged by the state's health officials.

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Symptoms include severe frontal headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting

The officials also wrote that the low number of infections makes it hard to know why only a few people have been infected "compared to the millions of other people that used the same or similar waters across the US."

Those who experience symptoms such as severe frontal headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting after swimming in warm freshwater should seek medical attention immediately.

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