Brain-Eating Amoeba Kills Teen In North Carolina

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A brain-eating amoeba killed an 18-year-old teenager from Ohio, health officials reported Wednesday.

According to a report from CNN, the teenager had gone on a church trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. She died of primary amebic mengioencephalitis on Sunday. The disease is a rare but deadly brain infection brought on by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, says director of communications Mitzi Kline from Franklin County Public Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed that the amoeba was indeed in the woman’s cerebral spinal fluid.

The CDC states that the amoeba is mostly found in warm freshwater and soil. It can also grow in pipes, but not in salt water, such as oceans.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said that victim’s only contact would have been when rafting with several others at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, wherein the raft capsized.

The US National Whitewater Center has released a statement saying that its water comes from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department and two of its own wells, all of which are treated with ultraviolet radiation and chlorine to disinfect the water. The statement said that the radiation is continuous and the levels of UV are enough to “inactivate” the amoeba that killed the woman, up to 99.99%. The Center has added more chlorine to its system since the incident.

Naegleria fowleri enters the body through the nose, not through drinking. It then travels to the brain. This can happen from diving or splashing into contaminated water from a height. Some cases have been the result of improperly disinfected waters in swimming pools or contaminated tap water. Most cases, however, are from swimming in warm rivers or lakes, especially in summer and in Southern states. The amoeba are not contagious.

State and county health authorities are working with the CDC and the Whitewater Center to further investigate the death. CDC officials are in North Carolina, taking water samples as part of the investigation.

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