by Victoria Simpson
In a development that makes the existence of the Loch Ness Monster or the shark from Jaws seem plausible, two people have lost their life in the U.S this month, after contracting a brain-eating amoeba while swimming in fresh water.
Twenty-four-year old Beth Knight of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and 14-year-old Michael Riley, of Houston, Texas were both exposed to Naegleria fowleri, a microorganism that invades the body via the nose, while swimming.
According to a report posted on theweathernetwork.com, Knight, a single mother of two was taken to the emergency room with a severe headache a few weeks after swimming in Lake Murray, Oklahoma, on August 4.
Riley displayed meningitis-like symptoms two weeks after swimming with his school’s track team at Sam Houston State Park, in Texas. He died this past Sunday.
General symptoms of Naegleria fowleri include a loss of appetite, headache, and a fever.
Thankfully, this infection, which causes death in 95% of reported cases, is rare.
There have been no reported cases of the illness being contracted in Canada, and only 133 infections have been reported in the U.S. between 1962 and 2014 according to the CDC.
How to avoid it?
For one, Naegleria fowleri cannot survive in salt water environments, so if it’s hot, swim in the ocean or a saltwater pool, if you can.
If it’s not a saltwater pool that’s available and you’re about to jump in, make certain that the water is properly maintained. Poorly maintained or un-chlorinated pools can easily breed Naegleria fowleri, and you want to avoid this.
In general, The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S advises that swimmers stay away from all freshwater activities when water temperatures are high-high like, bathwater high.
Personally, if there has been a prolonged heat spell in your area, this blogger recommends that you use the shower or the grocery store freezer section to cool off before doing anything else.
Stay dry and stay safe.