A teenage boy from Texas who contracted a rare brain-eating disease after swimming in a lake about 70 miles (110 km) north of Houston has died.
According to his father, Mike Rileyhe, the 14-year-old Michael Riley Jr., a junior Olympian and honor student, seemed to have contracted the disease after he went swimming at Sam Houston State Park on Aug. 13 with his track team.
It is with a heavy heart, that we let everyone know that Michael John Riley Jr. lost his battle on this earth but won a victory for his place in the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the family said in a statement on their Facebook page late on Saturday night.
According to CNN News, Dr. Umair Shah said the Harris County, Texas, health department, which he heads, learned of Micheal’s case a few days earlier on August 22. His agency soon became one of many — including the hospital, the state and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — involved in the case, trying to pin down the source of his illness and get the word out to the public and health professionals.
Naegleria fowleri are rare, Shah points out. But they can be found typically in warm fresh water such as lakes, rivers and hot springs.It is a single-celled organism that can cause a brain infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
These disease-causing organisms are naturally present in most lakes, ponds, and rivers but multiply rapidly in very warm and stagnant water,” the Oklahoma State Department of Health said.
People can get infected by swimming or diving into infected, warm bodies of water, the CDC said. The amoeba enters the nose and travels to the brain.
In extremely rare cases, swimmers can get infected from pools that are not adequately chlorinated.
But it’s impossible to get infected by drinking water contaminated with the amoeba. And infections are not contagious.
So, how can we prevent it?
The extreme rarity and randomness of such infections can make it difficult to predict where they might occur.
“It is unknown why certain persons become infected with (Naegleria fowleri) while millions of others exposed to warm recreational fresh waters do not, including those who were swimming with people who became infected,” the CDC said.
The Kansas health department advises swimmers to use nose plugs when swimming in fresh water.
It also suggests not stirring up the sediment at the bottom of shallow freshwater areas and keeping your head above the water in hot springs.
The Oklahoma health department also said people shouldn’t swim in stagnant water, water that is cloudy and green, or water that has a foul odor. Signs that say “no swimming” should be taken seriously.