Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Georgia resident dies from a rare 'brain-eating amoeba'

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Health officials say the deceased person was infected with Naegleria fowleri - likely while swimming in an unnamed freshwater lake or pond.

A Georgia resident has died from a rare brain infection, commonly known as the “brain-eating amoeba,” state health officials said Friday.

The victim was infected with Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba that destroys brain tissue, causes brain swelling and usually death, the Georgia Department of Health confirmed in a news release.

This is the sixth case of the infection in Georgia since 1962.

Officials said the victim likely was infected while swimming in a freshwater lake or pond but did not say where. People can become infected when water containing the amoeba goes up a person's nose. It can not infect people if swallowed and is not spread from person to person.

“The amoeba is naturally occurring, and there is no routine environmental test for Naegleria fowleri in bodies of water; and because it is very common in the environment, levels of the amoebas that naturally occur cannot be controlled,” health officials said. “The location and number of amoebas in the water can vary over time within the same body of water.”

Officials did not release any additional information about the victim.

Symptoms of an infection include severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting and progress to a stiff neck, seizures and coma that can lead to death. Symptoms start about five days after infection but can start anywhere from 1 to 12 days after infection. Symptoms progress rapidly and can cause death within five days.

People who choose to swim can reduce their risk of infection by limiting the mount of water that goes up their nose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not jumping or diving into bodies of fresh water, as well as holding your nose shut and keeping your head above water.