The brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri, a swimming parasite, has claimed its second victim in just two weeks, a four-year-old boy from Mississippi. Just last month, the same brain-eating amoeba killed 12-year-old Zachary Reyna from Florida. Kali Hardig, the 12-year-old girl from Arkansas who contracted the brain-eating amoeba in July, is only the third survivor of the brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri. According to a Sept. 5, 2013, WWLTV report, the four-year-old boy died from the brain-eating amoeba after having contracted it outside a residential home in St. Bernard Parish.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the four-year-old boy contracted the brain-eating amoeba, which so far has been considered to be mainly a swimming parasite, by playing for an extended period of time on a water slide in the front yard while visiting a residential home in St. Bernard Parish. “The DHH says the water supply at the home tested positive for the amoeba.”
St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta said officials believe that the four-year-old child contracted the amoeba from a slip and slide.
The brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri strives in hot springs and warm freshwater. The brain-eating amoeba enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain where it “leads to the destruction of brain tissue. In its early stages, symptoms of PAM may be similar to symptoms of bacterial meningitis.”
In describing the early symptoms of the brain-eating amoeba, the mother of the only Naegleria fowleri survivor this year said that Kali Hardig from Benton in Arkansas showed the first symptoms of the brain-eating amoeba just one day after she had gone swimming at Willow Springs Water Park.
"I couldn't get her fever down. She started vomiting. She'd say her head hurt really bad. She cried, and she would just look at me and her eyes would just kind of roll," said her mother Traci Hardig.
According to a JTNews19 report which describes the symptoms, causes, and treatment of the brain-eating amoeba, “people should seek medical care immediately whenever they develop a sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, and vomiting, particularly if they have been in warm freshwater recently.”
“Initial symptoms of PAM start 1 to 7 days after infection. The initial symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and stiff neck. Later symptoms include confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within 1 to 12 days.”
As the death of the four-year-old boy from Mississippi warns, the brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri can be contracted while playing on a plastic toy water slide.