There Have Been 2 Reports of Brain-Eating Amoeba in One Week and It's F*cking Terrifying

Source: AP
Source: AP

On Thursday, officials at the Florida Department of Health confirmed a case of a brain-eating amoeba (scientific name Naegleria fowleri) in a Florida swimmer, ABC News reported.

Officials didn't give the name or age of the infected person but said that they were currently receiving treatment and had contracted the infection by bathing "in unsanitary water at a private residence," according to ABC News.

This news comes less than a week after Hannah Collins, an 11-year-old resident of Beaufort, South Carolina, died after being exposed to Naegleria fowleri while swimming in a local river back in July, Reuters reported.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Naegleria fowleri "usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose." Once it has access to the brain, the amoeba can cause an infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, which "destroys brain tissue causing brain swelling and death," according to a CDC fact sheet.

A wet mount of Naegleria fowleri trophozoites.
Source: 
CDC

Naegleria fowleri is commonly found in freshwater lakes, rivers and hot springs, but can also show up in pools that are "poorly maintained," according to the CDC.

The brain infection that the amoeba causes is usually fatal: According to the CDC, "the fatality rate is over 97%. Only 3 people out of 138 known infected individuals in the United States from 1962 to 2015 have survived." 

But you shouldn't panic if you've recently been swimming in a lake or a grimy pool. As the CDC cheerfully reminds us, "there have been 37 reported infections in the U.S. in the 10 years from 2006 to 2015, despite millions of recreational water exposures each year. By comparison, in the 10 years from 2001 to 2010, there were more than 34,000 drowning deaths in the U.S." — i.e., you're way more likely to drown in a lake than to contract a brain-eating amoeba.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Anna Swartz

Anna is a staff writer for Mic covering breaking news. She can be reached at aswartz@mic.com.

MORE FROM

The fatal Hillsborough Stadium Disaster is back in the news 30 years later. Here's why.

What was the Hillsborough Stadium disaster?

When cops kill, paying their victims' families can be a cold, calculating process, attorneys say

Black lives are often seen as having less monetary value in the eyes of the law.

Ava Le'Ray Barrin, 17-year-old transgender girl, killed in Georgia

Barrin, 17, wanted to be a model.

Ten Commandments monument at Arkansas Capitol destroyed

The suspect appears to have broadcast the crash on Facebook Live.

'Hot Mic' podcast: Health care vote, Charges in Laquan McDonald shooting, U.S. image

The important stories to get you caught up for Wednesday.

Venezuela's Supreme Court targeted in helicopter attack amid ongoing crisis

The apparent helicopter attack is the latest escalation of an ongoing political crisis.

The fatal Hillsborough Stadium Disaster is back in the news 30 years later. Here's why.

What was the Hillsborough Stadium disaster?

When cops kill, paying their victims' families can be a cold, calculating process, attorneys say

Black lives are often seen as having less monetary value in the eyes of the law.

Ava Le'Ray Barrin, 17-year-old transgender girl, killed in Georgia

Barrin, 17, wanted to be a model.

Ten Commandments monument at Arkansas Capitol destroyed

The suspect appears to have broadcast the crash on Facebook Live.

'Hot Mic' podcast: Health care vote, Charges in Laquan McDonald shooting, U.S. image

The important stories to get you caught up for Wednesday.

Venezuela's Supreme Court targeted in helicopter attack amid ongoing crisis

The apparent helicopter attack is the latest escalation of an ongoing political crisis.