Officials said Wednesday that a child died from a suspected brain-eating amoeba, which would be the first case in Nebraska.
The child most likely contracted the amoeba from swimming in the Elkhorn River, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDOHH) stated in a news release Wednesday. The amoeba, which is known as Naegleria fowleri, is a specimen that is commonly found in freshwater rivers, lakes, ponds, and canals across the United States, according to the release. (Brain-Eating Amoeba Found At Water Park Kills Child)
#BREAKING: A child in Douglas County died this week from a suspected infection with the rare brain-eating amoeba, possibly in the Elkhorn River, according to the health department. https://t.co/CoLdG5DoUK pic.twitter.com/BbRhrwqVdO
— KETV NewsWatch 7 (@KETV) August 17, 2022
Hosts of Naegleria fowleri may suffer from primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), an infection that can happen when amoeba-infested water rushes through the host’s nose and makes its way to the brain. Cases involving brain-eating amoeba are extremely rare, but are always fatal, according to the release.
“Millions of recreational water exposures occur each year, while only 0 to 8 Naegleria fowleri infections are identified each year. Infections typically occur later in the summer, in warmer water with slower flow, in July, August, and September. Cases are more frequently identified in southern states but more recently have been identified farther north. Limiting the opportunities for freshwater to get into the nose are the best ways to reduce the risk of infection,” said State Epidemiologist, Dr. Matthew Donahue, the NDOHH stated in the release.
The NDOHH urges that residents should take precautionary measures, including paying attention to signs of infection like engaging in water activities that would force water up the nose. Officials also recommend swimmers to keep their heads above the water or use nose clips and avoid disturbing the sediment of lakes or rivers.