Boy Who Visited Lake Mead Dies From Amoeba Infection

Nevada boy developed symptoms a week after exposure to brain-eating amoeba
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2022 1:10 PM CDT
Brain-Eating Amoeba Kills Teen Who Swam at Lake Mead
A view of Lake Mead near Hoover Dam at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area near Boulder City, Nev.   (AP Photo/John Locher)

The CDC has confirmed that an infection of the brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri killed a Nevada boy who may have been exposed at Lake Mead earlier this month, the Southern Nevada Health District says. The Clark County resident's name and age were not released but the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that he was in his teens. The health district says the boy visited the Arizona side of Lake Mead at the beginning of October and began to develop symptoms around a week later. The Lake Mead National Recreation Area said the boy visited the Kingman Wash area near Hoover Dam, reports CNN. The park said this is the first confirmed death linked to amoeba exposure at Lake Mead.

US Public Health Service Officer Dr. Maria Said the park will continue to allow swimming because infections are very rare, but "recreational water users should always assume there is a risk anytime they enter warm freshwater." The health district says infections cause symptoms that initially include "headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting and progresses to stiff neck, seizures and coma that can lead to death." The district says the amoeba, usually found in warm freshwater, travels up the nose to the brain, NBC reports. The CDC says only around 3% of infected people survive.

"My condolences go out to the family of this young man," District Health Officer Dr. Fermin Leguen said in a statement. "While I want to reassure the public that this type of infection is an extremely rare occurrence, I know this brings no comfort to his family and friends at this time." The CDC says swimmers should avoid "jumping or diving into bodies of warm freshwater, especially during the summer," and should hold their noses shut or use nose clips in lakes and rivers. Earlier this year, Naegleria fowleri infections killed a child in Nebraska and a Missouri man who was infected while swimming in Iowa. (More brain-eating amoeba stories.)

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