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View Full Version : Brain-Eating Amoeba Kills Arizona Boy



Blandy vs Terrorism
10-11-2007, 12:52 AM
http://www.kpho.com/news/14214579/detail.html

PHOENIX -- A 14-year-old Lake Havasu boy has become the sixth victim to die nationwide this year of a microscopic organism that attacks the body through the nasal cavity, quickly eating its way to the brain.

Aaron Evans died Sept. 17 of Naegleria fowleri, an organism doctors said he probably picked up a week before while swimming in the balmy shallows of Lake Havasu.

According to the Centers For Disease Control, Naegleria infected 23 people from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials said they've noticed a spike in cases, with six Naegleria-related cases so far -- all of them fatal.

Such attacks are extremely rare, though some health officials have put their communities on high alert, telling people to stay away from warm, standing water.


"This is definitely something we need to track," said Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational water-born illnesses for the CDC.

"This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better," Beach said. "In future decades, as temperatures rise, we'd expect to see more cases."

Organism Lives In Lake Bottoms

Though infections tend to be found in southern states, Naegleria has been found almost everywhere in lakes, hot springs, even some swimming pools. Still, the CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.

The amoeba typically live in lake bottoms, grazing off algae and bacteria in the sediment. Beach said people become infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom. If someone allows water to shoot up the nose -- say, by doing a cannonball off a cliff -- the amoeba can latch onto the person's olfactory nerve.

The amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up to the brain.

People who are infected tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers, Beach said. In the later stages, they'll show signs of brain damage such as hallucinations and behavioral changes.

Once infected, most people have little chance of survival. Some drugs have been effective stopping the amoeba in lab experiments, but people who have been attacked rarely survive, Beach said.

"Usually, from initial exposure it's fatal within two weeks," Beach said.

Researchers still have much to learn about Naegleria, Beach said. For example, it seems that children are more likely to get infected, and boys are infected more often than girls. Experts don't know why.

"Boys tend to have more boisterous activities (in water), but we're not clear," he said.

Texas, Florida Report Cases

In addition to the Arizona case, health officials reported two cases in Texas and three more in central Florida this year. In response, central Florida authorities started an amoeba telephone hot line advising people to avoid warm, standing water, or any areas with obvious algae blooms.

Texas health officials also have issued news releases about the dangers of amoeba attacks and to be cautious around water. People "seem to think that everything can be made safe, including any river, any creek, but that's just not the case," said Doug McBride, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Lake Havasu City officials also are discussing how to deal with rare amoeba attacks in the wake of Aaron Evans' death. "Some folks think we should be putting up signs. Some people think we should close the lake," city spokesman Charlie Cassens said. City leaders haven't yet decided what to do.

Beach warned that people shouldn't panic about the dangers of brain-eating amoeba. Infections are extremely rare when compared with the number of times a year people come into contact with water. And there have been occasional years during the past two decades that experts noticed a similar spike in infections.

The easiest way to prevent infection, Beach said, is to simply plug your nose when swimming or diving in fresh water.

"You'd have to have water going way up in your nose to begin with" to be infected, he said.

Aaron's Infection Started With Headache

The Evans family lives within eyesight of Lake Havasu, a bulging strip of the Colorado River that separates Arizona from California. Temperatures hover in the triple digits all summer, and like almost everyone else, the Evans family looks to the lake to cool off.

On Sept. 8, he brought Aaron, his two other children and his parents to Lake Havasu to celebrate his birthday. They ate sandwiches and spent a few hours splashing around one of the beaches.

"For a week, everything was fine," he said.

Then Aaron got the headache that wouldn't go away. Evans took him to the hospital, and doctors thought his son was suffering from meningitis. Aaron was rushed to another hospital in Las Vegas.

Evans tried to reassure his son, but he had no idea what was wrong. On Sept. 17, Aaron stopped breathing as David held him in his arms.

"He was brain dead," David said. Only later did doctors realize the boy had been infected with Naegleria.

"My kids won't ever swim on Lake Havasu again."

Blandy vs Terrorism
10-11-2007, 12:56 AM
So yeah, my kids are never going swimming in the lake.

Ryan Elliott
10-11-2007, 01:04 AM
Yep. Never going into a lake. Ever.

Shwicaz
10-11-2007, 01:12 AM
just wear nose plugs and you'll be fine.

Ryan Elliott
10-11-2007, 01:14 AM
just wear nose plugs and you'll be fine.


"Some of the largest amoebae are about 1mm across, which means a human being would barely be able to see it with the naked eye."

Shwicaz
10-11-2007, 01:17 AM
"Some of the largest amoebae are about 1mm across, which means a human being would barely be able to see it with the naked eye."


and....?


the article also states it is only in lakes with higher water temps.

it also states it enteres your body through the nose.

If you are wearing nose plugs, your nostrils are clamped shut.

what does not being able to see it have to do with the fact that you have closed off its point of entry?

Ryan Elliott
10-11-2007, 01:18 AM
and....?


the article also states it is only in lakes with higher water temps.

it also states it enteres your body through the nose.

If you are wearing nose plugs, your nostrils are clamped shut.

what does not being able to see it have to do with the fact that you have closed off its point of entry?


With something THAT small, there's always a chance of it getting through.

Shwicaz
10-11-2007, 01:19 AM
Hey, look what the article says:

"The easiest way to prevent infection, Beach said, is to simply plug your nose when swimming or diving in fresh water.

"You'd have to have water going way up in your nose to begin with" to be infected, he said."



guess I'm not so crazy after all.

Ryan Elliott
10-11-2007, 01:20 AM
Yeah. I'm not going to take the chance. Pools are fine with me.

Shwicaz
10-11-2007, 01:20 AM
With something THAT small, there's always a chance of it getting through.


well with that type of attitude, be sure not to swim in the ocean, because there is always a chance of getting eaten by a shark.

Ryan Elliott
10-11-2007, 01:21 AM
well with that type of attitude, be sure not to swim in the ocean, because there is always a chance of getting eaten by a shark.


Never have, never will.

Blandy vs Terrorism
10-11-2007, 01:23 AM
Nose plugs might be a preventative measure, but I doubt it's 100% effective under any circumstance. Same as with condoms.

Shwicaz
10-11-2007, 01:56 AM
yeah, but why would you stick a condom up your nose?


;)

Caley Tibbittz
10-11-2007, 02:00 AM
Never have, never will.

Swam in the ocean, or been eaten by a shark?

Fourthman
10-11-2007, 03:31 AM
I'm not ever going outside or inside ever again because, y'know, 9/11.

MIKE D
10-11-2007, 03:37 AM
I'm with Shwicaz on this. This is exactly the type of story that tests how susceptible you are to media-generated paranoia. Even though the water temperature has to be very high, and even though it would require you basically snorting lake water like it's Columbia Gold, you still see "I'm never going in a lake again!".

You live your life in fear of everything, you never live your life.

Blandy vs Terrorism
10-11-2007, 03:52 AM
I'm with Shwicaz on this. This is exactly the type of story that tests how susceptible you are to media-generated paranoia. Even though the water temperature has to be very high, and even though it would require you basically snorting lake water like it's Columbia Gold, you still see "I'm never going in a lake again!".

You live your life in fear of everything, you never live your life.

And yet, why go in a lake when you can go to a properly cleaned and chlorineated swimming pool, which would filter out and kill any possible algae that these things also live off of? Swimming doesn't automatically become more fun because it's in a lake.

Also, high lake temperatures aren't solely native to areas like Arizona.

Fourthman
10-11-2007, 04:01 AM
And yet, why go in a lake when you can go to a properly cleaned and chlorineated swimming pool, which would filter out and kill any possible algae that these things also live off of? Swimming doesn't automatically become more fun because it's in a lake.

Also, high lake temperatures aren't solely native to areas like Arizona.

It is rare to have a more beautiful surrounding at a swimming pool than you would at a lake. The Hard Rock or any other Vegas pool doesn't count. Also, swimming pools and lakes both have a better chance of killing you by drowning than by any bacteria therein.

Ryan Elliott
10-11-2007, 04:01 AM
Swam in the ocean, or been eaten by a shark?


http://andersb.files.wordpress.com/2007/07/shark.jpg


:shifty:

Blandy vs Terrorism
10-11-2007, 04:04 AM
It is rare to have a more beautiful surrounding at a swimming pool than you would at a lake. The Hard Rock or any other Vegas pool doesn't count. Also, swimming pools and lakes both have a better chance of killing you by drowning than by any bacteria therein.

Chicks in bikinis are far more appealing to me than trees.

Risk of drowning, I can live with. That's why they have lifeguards. Risk of something I don't know is killing me until it's too late? That's another story.

Shwicaz
10-11-2007, 04:05 AM
And yet, why go in a lake when you can go to a properly cleaned and chlorineated swimming pool, which would filter out and kill any possible algae that these things also live off of? Swimming doesn't automatically become more fun because it's in a lake.

Also, high lake temperatures aren't solely native to areas like Arizona.


I go to vermont to swim in Lake Champlain.

i don't go to vermont to swim in the pool at the hotel.

Blandy vs Terrorism
10-11-2007, 04:06 AM
I go to vermont to swim in Lake Champlain.

i don't go to vermont to swim in the pool at the hotel.

I don't go to another state just to swim, period.

;)

Shwicaz
10-11-2007, 04:11 AM
Chicks in bikinis are far more appealing to me than trees.



I have never seen a chick wearing a tree when they swim by the lake.

:?

Fourthman
10-11-2007, 04:46 AM
Chicks in bikinis are far more appealing to me than trees.

Risk of drowning, I can live with. That's why they have lifeguards. Risk of something I don't know is killing me until it's too late? That's another story.

Trees, I think are the least of what's appealing about a natural setting. Outside of Vegas, you're far more likely to see hot chicks at a lake than a pool.

Also antibodies are the body's lifeguard, so that's something to consider in terms of safeguards. And finally, you understand that flying and lightning, two things for which there are no metaphorical noseplugs, pose a greater threat than swimming without a noseplug in a lake that has this bacteria, right?

xyzzy
10-11-2007, 05:10 AM
Nose plugs might be a preventative measure, but I doubt it's 100% effective under any circumstance. Same as with condoms.

Maybe, but this extremely low incidence already. Frankly, as long as you don't inhale water, you should be fine.

The open-water swimming community here has been talking about this for a while. The general consensus is that it's not really that worrying.

MAK15
10-11-2007, 05:10 AM
Brain-Eating Amoeba sounds like a 70's B-monster movie.
...or a monster card from Yu-Gi-Oh!

DrMachine
10-11-2007, 05:11 AM
meh...

old news...and nothing to worry about for the average person

MAK15
10-11-2007, 05:15 AM
meh...

old news...and nothing to worry about for the average person

but what if we're above average?
or slightly below it?
what then?

xyzzy
10-11-2007, 05:20 AM
If you let this change how you live your life, you might as well just seal yourself up inside a plastic bubble because there are all sorts of rare diseases that are out there in every environment.

DrMachine
10-11-2007, 05:21 AM
If you let this change how you live your life, you might as well just seal yourself up inside a plastic bubble because there are all sorts of rare diseases that are out there in every environment.

there are all sorts of very common diseases to worry about if people really want to worry about something

Shane W
10-11-2007, 05:54 AM
I go to vermont to swim in Lake Champlain.

i don't go to vermont to swim in the pool at the hotel.


But if you go there Champ the monster might eat you.

Shane W
10-11-2007, 05:55 AM
I'm more likely to win the lottery than have this happen.. Well, I take that back. I'm more likely to get the brain eating amoeba, but that's because bad shit happens to me.

half guard
10-11-2007, 05:58 AM
well with that type of attitude, be sure not to swim in the ocean, because there is always a chance of getting eaten by a shark.

you're going to laugh at me, but that's the exact reason why i don't swim in the ocean anymore when i'm on vacation. :surrend:

Ryudo
10-11-2007, 06:02 AM
I'm never going in a lake again.

Not that I ever have.

I'm just saying.

Shwicaz
10-11-2007, 06:14 AM
But if you go there Champ the monster might eat you.

OMG!

I have a picture of my husband on 'Champ'.

getting him to take a 'silly' picture was the most difficult thing for "Mr. Serious".

He wouldn't get on the damn thing. I said "Honey, get on the monster and let me take your picture."

He said "NO. It's silly" He turned all red, and got embarassed at even the suggestion that he sit on it. He stood behind it, he stood in front of it, he stood behind it....he just wouldn't get on the damn thing.

I finally ended up getting a picture. I'll post it later. It cracks me up every time I see it.

Mwstattel
10-11-2007, 08:57 AM
Brain-eating Amoeba? . . . Sign me up!

Shwicaz
10-26-2007, 02:31 PM
OMG!

I have a picture of my husband on 'Champ'.

getting him to take a 'silly' picture was the most difficult thing for "Mr. Serious".

He wouldn't get on the damn thing. I said "Honey, get on the monster and let me take your picture."

He said "NO. It's silly" He turned all red, and got embarassed at even the suggestion that he sit on it. He stood behind it, he stood in front of it, he stood behind it....he just wouldn't get on the damn thing.

I finally ended up getting a picture. I'll post it later. It cracks me up every time I see it.


and here it is:


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v447/shwicaz/champ.jpg

MIKE D
10-26-2007, 03:17 PM
you're going to laugh at me, but that's the exact reason why i don't swim in the ocean anymore when i'm on vacation. :surrend:

I was on vacation at the beach two months back and saw a fisherman pull a 5 foot sand shark out of the water. It didn't do a thing to keep me from going back in for a swim. Sharks near a beach are not rare; man eaters a different story.

Amos Moses
10-26-2007, 03:27 PM
you're going to laugh at me, but that's the exact reason why i don't swim in the ocean anymore when i'm on vacation. :surrend:

Fucking Spielberg.

lovewillkill
10-26-2007, 03:34 PM
there are all sorts of very common diseases to worry about if people really want to worry about something

I agree. Especially when you consider how many tens (hundreds?) of thousands of people swim in Havasu every year, and there are only a handful of cases of this disease reported.

Pretty sure this is one of those "you have a better chance of being struck by lightning" things.

lwk