Child dies from brain-eating amoeba after visiting hot spring, Nevada officials say


A child died from a brain-eating amoeba after a visit to a Nevada hot spring, state officials said Thursday. 

The child was identified as 2-year-old Woodrow Bundy, CBS affiliate KLAS reported. 

Investigators believe the child contracted the infection at Ash Springs, which is located about 100 miles north of Las Vegas. He experienced flu-like symptoms, and then his health began spiraling. The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health has not publicly identified the victim. 

The child’s Naegleria fowleri infection, more commonly known as a brain-eating amoeba, was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The single-celled living organism lives in warm fresh water, such as hot springs. It enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain. 

The amoeba can cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a brain infection that destroys brain tissue, health officials said. It’s almost always fatal.

Last year, another Nevada boy died because of a brain-eating amoeba.

Only 157 cases were reported from 1962 through 2022, according to the CDC. Only four of the patients survived in that period. The infection usually occurs in boys younger than 14, according to CDC data.

Symptoms start one to 12 days after swimming or having some kind of nasal exposure to water containing Naegleria fowleri, according to the CDC. People die one to 18 days after symptoms begin. 

Signs of infection include fever, nausea, vomiting, a severe headache, stiff neck, seizures, altered mental state, hallucinations and comatose. 

Naegleria fowleri occurs naturally in the environment, so swimmers should always assume there’s a risk when they enter warm fresh water, health officials said. As a precaution, swimmers and boaters should avoid jumping or diving into bodies of warm fresh water, especially during the summer, according to the CDC. 

The agency also advises swimmers to hold their noses shut, use nose clips, or keep their heads above water. Avoid submerging your head in hot springs and other untreated geothermal waters. People should also avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment in shallow, warm fresh water. Amebae are more likely to live in sediment at the bottom of lakes, ponds and rivers.

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