This infection is extremely rare, and there have only been 10 cases reported since 1971 in California.
7-year-old David Pruitt of Tehama County had no idea that jumping into a lake would cost him his life. In July 2021, the young boy contracted an extremely rare brain-eating amoeba while swimming in a Northern California lake, according to PEOPLE. On the 30th of that month, David was rushed to the emergency room and then transferred to UC Davis Medical Center, states NBC Bay Area.
There, he was put on life support because of the swelling in his brain. Doctors tried their best to save the young boy, but on August 7, 2021, he breathed his last, due to primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM.
"He is now in the loving arms of our Lord and family members who have passed before him. We are rejoicing in knowing he is no longer in pain and in the best of care," shared the boy's aunt, Crystal Hayley, via GoFundMe.
The parents of a 7-year-old who died after being infected with an extremely rare brain-eating amoeba while swimming in a lake “want people to be aware of this amoeba and the illness signs” https://t.co/9CbYbOqjzB— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) August 15, 2021
This infection is extremely rare, and there have only been 10 cases reported since 1971 in California, the Tehama County Health Services Agency said in a prior news release, which was obtained by the Associated Press.
David's parents declined a request for an interview, but Hayley said “they want people to be aware of this amoeba and the illness signs.”
Naegleria fowleri, commonly referred to as brain-eating amoeba, is a single-celled living organism that can cause PAM, the rare and almost always fatal infection of the brain. It is found in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. Sometimes, the amoeba can also be found in warm water from a swimming pool that has not been adequately treated with chlorine, the Centers for Disease Control wrote. “Once the ameba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM, which is usually fatal,” it said.
Been debating about posting this but friendly reminder to beware of still, warm brackish freshwater because of Naegleria fowleri (brain eating amoeba)... My co-worker just lost her little boy.— Sunara (@Sunara_Ishi) August 10, 2021
However, "You cannot get infected from drinking water contaminated with Naegleria. You can only be infected when contaminated water goes up into your nose." Symptoms of brain-eating amoeba generally start one to nine days after exposure, and many people die within 18 days of showing symptoms, which include severe headaches, fever, nausea, and vomiting in the first stage, and stiff neck, seizures, altered mental status, hallucinations, and coma in the second stage.
The most unfortunate thing about PAM is that it is very hard to detect because of the rapid progression of the disease. Diagnosis is typically made postmortem.
Though the chance of being infected is rare, there is no known method to reduce or kill the dangerous amoeba found in the water, which is why the CDC is "unclear how a standard might be set to protect human health and how public health officials would measure and enforce such a standard."
Naegleria fowleri, colloquially known as a "brain-eating amoeba" - at risk people swimming in #freshwaters. https://t.co/XlU8uUfiaV pic.twitter.com/3UngW9ESIx— Ari Med (@AriMd2021) August 16, 2021
This means that the only way one can avoid a brain-eating amoeba infection is to refrain from participating in water-related activities in warm freshwater. "Anyone that enjoys time in a body of water should cover their nose before they go in or use nose clips," Florida Department of Health in Orange County spokeswoman Mirna Chamorro previously told PEOPLE. "As long as they don't put their head underwater, they are okay."
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe | Help The Pruitt FamilyDisclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.