WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Florida Department of Health confirms one case of Naegleria Fowleri

The Florida Department of Health confirmed one case of Naegleria Fowleri in Glades County on August 13 and is urging anyone involved in recreational sports in warm freshwater lakes to take precautions against potential infection.

Naegleria Fowleri is a live, microscopic, single-celled amoeba. The amoeba enters the body through the nose and can cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a disease that destroys brain tissue and is usually fatal.

"The effects of PAM on the individuals who contract the amoeba are tragic," Interim State Epidemiologist Dr. Carina Blackmore said. "We want to remind Floridians to be wary when swimming, jumping or diving in fresh water when water temperatures and high and water levels are low. If you are partaking in recreational swimming activities during this time, please take necessary precautions and remind your family and friends to do the same."

Infections can occur when swimming in warm, freshwater bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers and canals. The amoeba enters through the nose and within one to seven days, a person may experience fever, nausea, headaches, vomiting, seizures, loss of appetite and hallucinations.

The infection spreads rapidly after the onset of symptoms as the amoeba travels to the brain. It is critical to see a physician immediately after the onset of symptoms.

The disease is rare, with only 28 cases reported between 2003 and 2012. The Florida DOH is, however, encouraging people that swim recreationally in target bodies of water to use nose clips, hold their noses or keep their heads above water while swimming.