Tags: brain | eating | amoeba | infects

Brain-Eating Amoeba Infects 12-Year-Old Florida Boy

Wednesday, 14 Aug 2013 07:05 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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A 12-year-old Florida boy has contracted the same brain-eating amoeba that put an Arkansas girl in critical condition in July.

Zachary Reyna's mother knew something was wrong earlier this month, after her normally active son went kneeboarding with friends in a water-filled ditch and then slept the entire next day.

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She took him to the hospital, where doctors confirmed he had developed a life-threatening strain of meningitis caused by the Naegleria fowleri amoeba. The parasite is usually found in hot springs and warm, fresh water and works its way up the nose into the brain, according to CNN. It's extremely rare, with only 32 reported cases between 2001 and 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

A person will begin to experience symptoms one to seven days after becoming infected with the brain-eating amoeba, including headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and a stiff neck, according to the CDC.

"Later symptoms include confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations," the government agency's website states. "After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within one to 12 days."

Of the 128 known cases in the past half-century, only two people survived the infection, the CDC said.

Reyna immediately underwent surgery and is currently in the intensive care unit of Miami Children's Hospital.

"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."

The CDC has given Reyna the same experimental drug it gave to Kali Hardig, the 12-year-old from Arkansas. Hardig was infected with the brain-eating amoeba in late July, likely after a visit to the Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock.

She was prescribed a cocktail of antifungal medicine and antibiotics, along with the anti-amoeba CDC drug, and is now in the rehab stage of her recovery.

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Related stories:

Florida Officials Issue Warning on 'Brain-Eating Amoeba'

Brain-Eating Amoeba Closes Water Park

Traumatic Brain Injury Raises Stroke Risk 

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