Rare ‘brain-eating’ amoeba infects person in Florida, health officials say

A person has been infected with a rare “brain-eating” amoeba in Florida, according to local health officials.

The state’s Department of Health said one person in Hillsborough County had contracted Naegleria fowleri, prompting warnings for residents.

The patient’s condition is not known.

Florida’s Department of Health has issued a warning for people swimming or diving in the state, but said: “Remember, this disease is rare and effective prevention strategies can allow for a safe and relaxing summer swim season.”

Naegleria fowleri is commonly found in warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers and hot springs, and enters the body through the nose.

It then travels to the brain, causing an infection which is usually fatal.

The symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, disorientation, vomiting, stiff neck, seizures, loss of balance and hallucinations.

Infection is more common in southern US states, especially in the summer months.

Only 37 cases have been recorded in Florida since 1962, but health officials are now warning locals to avoid nasal contact with water from taps and other sources.

People have also been told to avoid digging in or stirring up sediment in shallow freshwater, and to try holding their nose shut or using nose clips when swimming or diving.

They should contact health officials if they experience any symptoms.

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