A recent article posted by PIX 11 explains that a patient in South Carolina has just been diagnosed with an extremely rare “brain-eating” amoeba, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The amoeba is called Naegleria fowleri and is thought to have been contracted by the patient on July 24th at Martin’s Landing in the Edisto River as part of the Ernest F. Hollings Ace Basin National Wildlife park.
A representative from the CDC confirmed that there have been less than 40 cases of Naegleria fowleri in humans during the past decade. Even though there have been few cases reported, the death rate is high. Infected patients may notice symptoms of the amoeba as early as the first day of infection. Typical symptoms include a high fever, nausea and vomiting. Patients may eventually slip into a coma.
According to the CDC, the best way to avoid the deadly amoeba is to refrain from entering warm, untreated water sources, especially unknown fresh water sources with very low water levels. If you do enter an unknown fresh water source, try to hold your nose shut or use a nose clamp to avoid taking in any water. In addition, you should try not to stir up or dig in any sediment close to warm fresh water to avoid exposure to the deadly amoeba. If you are swimming in salt water you do not need to be concerned about infection from Naegleria fowleri because it is only found in fresh water so far.
A drug company form Florida is sending a rare drug to a patient in a hospital in South Carolina who has contracted a deadly brain-eating amoeba after swimming in fresh water. A CEO with Profounda has sent a representative to the hospital with the drug in the hopes that it will help in treating the patient.
The drug is called miltefosine. It is known for helping to cure one person of the two people in the country who have survived after contracting the amoeba. It is $48,000 for one round of treatment, making this a drug that is often used as a last resort. It has a high potency, and results are usually seen in a short time. The person who contracted the disease in South Carolina was swimming along the Edisto River on July 24. If the amoeba is swallowed, it usually doesn’t cause any harm. However, if it is forced through the nasal cavity, then it reaches the brain. There are only about 10 people who contract the disease each year according to the CDC. Those who do contract the disease usually die as the treatment is so expensive and there just aren’t any other solutions to treating the illness. Water in the state should be monitored before anyone is allowed back in the river, and there should be mandatory testing each month to look at the levels of any other kinds of bacteria that could be in the water.
Officials in South Carolina confirmed that a resident had been exposed to an extremely rare and dangerous amoeba.
An individual was exposed the brain-eating amoeba, known as Naegleria fowleri, while swimming near Martin’s Landing in Charleston County in July. The amoeba, present only in fresh warm water, is contracted when it enters the nose and travels to the brain. It is not contagious. The one-celled organism can cause inflammation of the brain through a condition called primary amebic meningoencephalitis.
State epidemiologist Linda Bell explained that “there have been fewer than 40 cases reported nationwide in the past 10 years,” with nearly all of them fatal.
A drug to combat the amoeba was immediately brought to Charleston, according to officials.
While Naegleria fowleri is extremely rare, Dr. Bell directed swimmers to be cautious to avoid contracting the deadly disease.
“You should avoid swimming or jumping into bodies of fresh water when the water is warm and the water levels are low. Also, you should either hold your nose or use a nose plug. You cannot be infected by merely drinking water containing the amoeba,” Dr. Bell said.
An Ohio teen died earlier this summer after contracting Naegleria fowleri at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C.
Families of children who died from exposure to the amoeba have fought to ensure hospitals have experimental medication readily available. Todd Maclaughlan, CEO of the drug company Profounda, said that two hospitals in Texas and one in South Carolina stock the drug called Miltefosine.