The topic 'brain-eating warning' may have some picturing a zombie apocalypse, but it is actually a serious warning from the Florida Department of Health. On August 16, 2013, health officials issued a statewide warning to swimmers due to a brain-eating amoeba that has a 12-year-old boy fighting for his life according to WTSP in Tampa Bay.
The amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, is commonly found in freshwater bodies of water and causes infection when contaminated water enters through the nose.
Warm freshwater plays host to Naegleria fowleri, it can also thrive in pools and hot tubs that are not properly treated with chlorine. While most people who have contracted it were swimming underwater, there were two deaths in Louisiana in 2012, after they used a neti pot to flush out nasal congestion.
Zachary Reyna has been in the ICU at Miami's Children's Hospital for almost two weeks. He contracted parasitic meningitis(PAM) while playing near his home, in a water filled ditch that had the parasite living in it. While the mortality rate is estimated at 98%, Reyna's family are staying optimistic. Their optimism comes from knowing Kali Hardig, 12, is recovering from PAM after contracting it at a water park in Arkansas in July.
Hardig is the third person in the world to survive the deadly infection. She was on a ventilator for over two weeks and is now able to throw and catch a ball with her therapist.
Hardig was treated with a drug from Germany which was originally designed to treat breast cancer. Hardig's doctors are sharing information with the doctors that are treating Renya and are hopeful in getting results like Hardig now has.
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