Boy dies after infection from brain eating amoeba he caught swimming in river

A young boy in Nebraska has died after suspected infection from a rare brain-eating amoeba typically found in freshwater lakes and rivers.

The child, whose name and age has not been disclosed, is the state of Nebraska’s first known death from the parasite, according to health officials.

Health officials believe the child was exposed to Naegleria fowleri while swimming on August 8 in a shallow portion of the Elkhorn River in Douglas County.

Symptoms began about five days after the child’s exposure, and within 48 hours, the child was admitted to an area hospital. The young child died several days later from their infection, said Dr Kari Neemann, a pediatric infectious disease physician and medical adviser for Douglas County.

Officials said the child was swimming normally when he was exposed. Naegleri fowleri enters the body through their nose and can travel to the brain and destroy the brain tissue.

Federal health officials are working to confirm if the case was an infection of Naegleria fowleri, the Douglas County Health Department said.

‘We can only imagine the devastation this family must be feeling, and our deepest condolences are with them,’ Douglas County Health Director Lindsay Huse said in a statement Wednesday.

‘We can honor the memory of this child by becoming educated about the risk and then taking steps to prevent infection.’

Last month, a swimmer from Missouri believed to have contracted the amoeba while swimming at a beach in Iowa died from their infection.

The swimmer was infected on July 7 after swimming at the Lakes of Three Fires in Taylor County, officials in Iowa said.

While the odds of being infected by the rare amoeba are low, health officials say people should take extra precautions when swimming in freshwater, like lakes and rivers.

Symptoms of primary amebic meningoencephalitis include severe headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck and seizures. These types of infection mainly occur during summer months, between July and September, and in southern US states, according to the CDC.

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