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Health

North Carolina Child's Death Linked To Amoeba Found In Pond Water

A child who became ill after swimming in a private pond in central North Carolina pond earlier this month has died from a brain infection caused by an amoeba in the water, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said.

The amoeba commonly found in freshwater called Naegleria fowleri caused the child’s illness, health officials said. Swallowing the amoeba doesn’t cause illness, but it can be fatal if forced up the nose, which can occur when jumping or diving into water, news outlets reported.

Symptoms of the brain infection usually start with severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting and progress to stiff neck, seizures, coma and can lead to death. The infections are rare, with only 147 known infections between 1962 and 2019. Six of those cases were in North Carolina, according to the department.

The infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, leading to higher water temperatures and lower water levels, the department said. The amoeba cannot be eliminated in freshwater bodies of water, but in areas where the infection has become more common, health officials recommend that people avoid activities in warm freshwater or hold their noses shut using nose clips or keep their heads above water.

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