A deadly brain-eating amoeba is currently threatening a 13-year-old boy after he was infected while swimming in Florida on a family beach trip July 1.
Caleb Ziegelbauer started hallucinating and suffering headaches, and was hospitalized at Golisano Children’s Hospital a week later, WESH 2 reported. Doctors later diagnosed him with an infection from the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, according to the outlet.
Naegleria fowleri is a single-cell living organism living in soil and warm freshwater, including lakes, rivers and hot springs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite it being very rare – there are an estimated three infections in the U.S. each year – cases usually end fatally, the CDC noted. (RELATED: Study Suggests ‘Brain-Eating’ Amoeba May Be Moving North Due To Climate Change)
The timeline of the infection is uncertain, leaving Ziegelbauer’s family frustrated, WESH 2 reported.
“Are we in the clear? Are we on the path to healing? Are we waiting for something else to happen?” his aunt, Katie Chiet, told the outlet.
13-year-old Caleb Ziegelbauer is in the battle for his life right now. His family took a trip to Port Charlotte Beach on July 1. He was fine for a week and then the headaches and hallucinations started. ⬇ https://t.co/SazQjtrG8M
— ABC7 News (@ABC7SWFL) July 23, 2022
The swelling in Ziegelbauer’s brain has grown since his diagnosis, family members told WESH 2, but Caleb is still breathing on his own. (RELATED: Scientists Battle Massive Snails That Infect People’s Brains)
The family wants to support the Florida teen in any possible way. More than 15 family members and friends from all over the country have come to the hospital to hold up signs in support, WRAL reported.