Lake Mead in the Las Vegas area is considered a freshwater lake, river or spring. Experts stated that people should be careful when at these locations rather than panicking because of the death of a teenager due to a rare brain-eating amoeba.
Because of its name, the brain-eating amoeba naturally attracts a lot of attention. Former public health epidemiologist Brian Labus said this is because of the name. He added that it is a very rare disease.
According to the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ School of Public Health, only 154 cases of the Naegleria fowleri amoeba infection and death were recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 1962. Over half of these cases were reported in Florida and Texas, while only one case was reported in Nevada before this week.
When laboring over difficult concepts, Labus usually dismisses them out of hand. He’s not alarmed about the alarm-worthy rare amoeba because intelligent people know to avoid it when it resides in its natural habitats. The creature is found in water ranging from 77 degrees Fahrenheit to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, or 25 degrees Celsius to 46 degrees Celsius.
The CDC confirmed the cause of death after investigating the Kingman Wash case. The CDC said that a teen may have been exposed to the microscopic organism in the area of the Colorado River reservoir behind Hoover Dam over the weekend of September 30. However, the Southern Nevada Health District stated that they couldn’t identify the teen.
The Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the district oversee Lake Mead and the Colorado River. Both districts and the RECA note that migrating amoebas infect people through the nose, eventually inducing fatal brain damage in nearly all cases.
People should avoid jumping into pools of hot water during the summer or diving into bodies of water to avoid the virus’ transmission. Additionally, people should avoid swallowing infected water and don’t share water containers with other people. Both the CDC and the World Health Organization state that head above water in pools is a safe practice when in hot springs or other geothermal pools.
As noted by the professor of infectious diseases and cellular biology Dennis Kyle, 99% of contact with water that enters the nose is fatal. However, 97% of death can be prevented by simple methods. These methods include using nose plugs when diving or avoiding water up one’s nose.
Amebic meningoencephalitis is an initial symptom of a brain infection caused by the amoeba. The illness includes symptoms of anemia, fever, nausea and vomiting. It can also induce a headache and altitude sickness. A person diagnosed with this condition may experience stiff neck, seizures and possibly death.
Symptoms can appear anywhere from one to twelve days after exposure; fatalities typically occur within five days.
There’s no known treatment that has proven effective, and Kyle said a diagnosis often comes too late.
Kyle regularly studies the subject for decades. He stated that data to his knowledge didn’t suggest that rising temperatures in the water affected the amoeba. Additionally, he believed there were only a handful of cases in other countries across the nation.
During a survey of news articles, cases were found in Iowa, Nebraska and Northern California. A CDC map showed most cases in the past 60 years to be located in Southern US states. Texas and Florida had the most37 cases each.
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