‘Brain-eating’ amoeba prompt urgent health warning in Florida as COVID cases soar

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The state’s Department of Health said the amoeba is usually fatal but did not give details about the condition of the ill person in Hillsborough County. Naegleria fowleri is typically found in freshwater like rivers, ponds, lakes and springs. It enters the body through the nose and attacks the brain, triggering an infection which more often than not proves to be fatal.

The DOH urged people to refrain from swimming in warm freshwater near power plants and shallow bodies of freshwater on very hot days.

The DOH said: “Adverse health effects on humans can be prevented by avoiding nasal contact with the waters since the amoeba enters through nasal passages.”

The authority said anyone using a nasal irrigation device should use only sterile water and not water out of a tap.

The body said: “Use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.”

But the DOH reassured Floridians that the amoeba is rare and the single case would not cause huge disruption to summertime swimming.

The statement added: “Remember, this disease is rare and effective prevention strategies can allow for a safe and relaxing summer swim season.”

Symptoms typically included headache, nausea, fever, vomiting and even seizures.

Infected persons can also experience stiffness of the neck, a loss of balance and hallucinations.

Since 1962 only 37 cases have gone on the record in Florida.

And of the 143 cases of amoeba recorded across the United States only four people have survived.

On average, those who succumb to the infection are dead within five days of the amoeba entering their system.


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The amoeba thrive in hot climates and warm water.

They live in sediment found at the bottom of rivers and ponds.

An action which disturbs the sediment such as people diving in or splashing about will cause the amoeba to make their way into the water.

The single infection in Florida comes as the southern state is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday it set a new record for most coronavirus cases in the US in a single day.

A total of 11,458 new COVID-19 cases were recorded.

These brought the overall total of cases in Florida past 200,000.

A top Trump administration health official said on Sunday it was not clear whether it will be safe to hold the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville next month.

Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, also refused to confirm President Donald Trump’s claim that 99 percent of coronavirus cases were harmless and called the situation a “serious problem.”

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