A 4-year-old child from Mississippi has died, after becoming infected with the rare but deadly brain-eating amoeba while visiting a home in Louisiana, state health officials confirmed. The child is believed to have contracted the brain-eating amoeba infection, know formally as Naegleria fowleri, while playing on a plastic water slide in St. Bernard Parish, according to CNN on Saturday, Sept. 7. Officials there said they started treating the water with chlorine Thursday, after water samples taken from the home tested positive for the amoeba.
The 4-year-old Mississippi boy's death is also the second reported loss of a child due to Naegleria fowleri in less than two weeks. Last month, the same parasite killed 12-year-old Zachary Reyna from Florida.
Louisiana Department of Health officials said the water in St. Bernard Parish was being treated as a precautionary measure. Officials say they are flushing water lines, and adding additional chlorine to the system.
News of a second death in two weeks is disturbing, since between 2001 and 2010, there were only 32 reported cases of people getting Naegleria fowleri in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The parasite is found in hot springs and warm freshwater, most often in the Southeast. The amoeba enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain.
In the Florida case, Reyna was initially infected with PAM, or primary amebic meningoencephalitis, after knee-boarding with his friends in a water-filled ditch near his home in LaBelle.
According to the CDC, there is no danger of infection from simply drinking contaminated water. Initial symptoms of the brain-eating disease include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and a stiff neck.
The symptoms may appear one to seven days after infection. Symptoms later progress to confusion, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations.
It's rare to survive the ailment, with death usually occurring within two weeks of the onset of symptoms.
As of Saturday, the state's health department had not released the Mississippi child's age or identity.