Zachary Reyna, a 12-year-old Florida boy infected with a rare but lethal brain-eating amoeba, has died, CNN reported.
Reyna is thought to have contracted an infection with the water-borne Naegleria fowleri amoeba on Aug. 3 while kneeboarding in a water-filled ditch near his house in LaBelle, Fla. His infection quickly developed into primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain condition that is nearly always fatal.
"This infection is one of the most severe infections that we know of," Dr. Dirk Haselow of the Arkansas Department of Health told CNN affiliate WMC. "Ninety-nine percent of people who get it die."
Reyna was hospitalized and underwent brain surgery to treat PAM, and he was also given an experimental drug used to fight the rare amoeba. But a post placed Saturday on a Facebook page that has provided updates on the case announced the boy's death. His organs will be donated to help others, the website noted. "Even though Zac has passed, he will still be saving many lives," the post said.
N. fowleri is rare but can be found in warm freshwater, most often in the southeastern area of the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain. N. fowleri cannot be transmitted by drinking contaminated water.
Another 12-year-old, Kali Hardig, was infected with N. fowleri this summer but has survived after being treated with the same experimental drug that Reyna received, CNN said. The Arkansas girl is only the third person to survive infection with the amoeba over the past 50 years.