A RARE brain-eating amoeba which enters the body via the nose has claimed the life of a man at a water park.
With temperatures soaring, emergency services in the UK have this week issue a warning about the dangers of swimming in fresh water – and the latest incident underlines another reason to be take care. Eddie Gray fell ill after he went swimming at the water park, in the state of North Carolina, earlier this month. A lawyer acting on behalf of his family described his death as “tragic and untimely” Mr Gray went to the park along with other members of a church mission group.
Speaking to the Charlotte Observer, Rev Justin Lowe, senior pastor at Sedge Garden United Methodist Church said: “Our church family is deeply saddened by this loss and our prayers are with the family in this time of grief.
The amoeba, known as naegleria fowleri, is a single-celled organism found in warm freshwater during the summer months, according to health officials.
It was first identified in Australia, but seems to have evolved in the United States.
However, it can be found around the world, including the UK.
If swallowed, the organism is harmless – but if it enters via the nose, it travels to the brain and causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, which is almost invariably fatal.
Sufferers suffer a sore neck, followed by seizures before falling into a coma.
Once victims become symptomatic, 97 percent of them will die.
Speaking to WRAL.com, Duane Holder, interim director of the Cumberland County Health Department, said: “Swimming in and of itself is not so much of concern.
“Now, diving, jumping in from heights and maybe some of the forceful activity of submerging, those are situations I would make sure I had nose clips, nose plugs, or I’d pinch my nose if I knew I was going to be forcibly entering the water.”
Fortunately tragedies such as the one which claimed Mr Gray’s life are extremely rare: naegleria fowleri has infected total of 145 people in the United States since 1962 – although just four of them survived.
The CDC’s website states: “Naegleria fowleri infects people when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose.