A rare brain-eating amoeba that causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis has claimed the life of a California woman.
According to WCNC News :
The woman was flown to Renown Regional Medical Center, where she experienced cardiac arrest and died on June 20.
Her name is not being released by her family, Richard Johnson, M.D., of Inyo Public Health said.
The resident first felt symptoms on June 16 including headache, nausea and vomiting, a report from the Division of Health & Human Services of Inyo County said .
Humans are infected by the amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, when swimming or diving in fresh, warm water. The amoeba then migrates through the nose and skull, where it reaches the brain and begins to destroy brain tissue.
“This is a very unusual biology lesson, but an extremely tragic one,” Johnson said.
This is the first reported case of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) in the eastern Sierras and in Bishop, but there have been seven previous cases in California, Johnson said.
The resident was believed to be infected on private land. The general public does not have access to the land and is safe from contracting the infection.
“Our next steps are to inspect the suspected sites of exposure to find what risk factors might exist like places where people might go swimming and where the domestic water supply is on the property,” he said.
Commercial water sites with hot springs do not present a risk to the public because they are maintained well.
“I advise people to be cautious when using untreated hot springs in the Sierras,” Dr. Johnson said, “The best way to do that is to keep your head above water.”
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