A child in North Carolina has died after developing a rare brain infection caused by an amoeba foundÂ in freshwater areas, state health officials said Tuesday.Â
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human ServicesÂ confirmedÂ in a news release that the child, who was not identified, died Friday â€œafter developing an illness caused by an amoeba that is naturally present in freshwater,â€ known as Naegleria fowleri.Â
The child became sick after swimming in a private pond at their familyâ€™s residence in central North Carolina this month.Â Â Â
“Our heart-felt condolences and sympathies are with the family and friends of this child,” Zack Moore, state epidemiologist, said in the release. “Although these infections are very rare, this is an important reminder that this amoeba is present in North Carolina and that there are actions people can take to reduce their risk of infection when swimming in the summer.”Â
Laboratory testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the childâ€™s sickness was caused by the Naegleria fowleri. The amoeba is not dangerous if swallowed, but it can cause sicknesses if it is â€œforced up the nose,â€ North Carolina officials said in their release Tuesday.
A Naegleria fowleri infection, called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, can initially cause headaches, fever, nausea andÂ vomiting. A more developedÂ infection can cause stiff neck, seizures and a coma. It has a fatality rate of over 97%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Naegleria fowleri is commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba.”Â
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North Carolina health officials encouraged people to â€œlimit the amount of water going up your noseâ€ when in freshwater, avoid digging up sediment inÂ freshwater areas and more to protect against the amoeba.
There were 147 knownÂ Naegleria fowleri infections in the U.S. from 1962 to 2019. Â
The North Carolina childâ€™s death comes less than aÂ weekÂ after a California boy died from an infection from the amoeba. David Pruitt, 7, of Tehoma County, California, died on Aug.Â 7. Â