It’s the height of summer, and many people are heading for the lakes and swimming pools to get some much needed rest and recreation. Most of the time, the biggest threat people worry about on their trip is a whether they packed enough sunscreen and making sure they have enough fluids to keep everyone adequately hydrated. Add brain-eating amoebas to that list.
The state of Florida has issued a warning to swimmers in waters that these possibly deadly parasites have been present. A 12-year-old kid became infected with this and is now literally fighting for his life. While extremely rare, when it happens, it almost always ends up in a fatality. We hope that this kid can pull through, but in the meantime, the word is out that brain-eating amoebas have been present in the water and could be a potential threat.
This parasite thrives in freshwater, especially when it’s hot. They cannot survive in salt water, so the ocean is not a problem. According to the CDC, when we say ultra-rare we mean it. There have been only 32 reported cases of this between 2001 and 2010, but, you can never be too safe when it comes to these things, so we will pass along some of the recommendations that are being given out to minimize the chances of running into this deadly parasite.
Once again, these parasites thrive in freshwater when the temperature is high. If the water level is low, it makes it even more likely. Taking in water through your nose is a surefire way to introduce these guys right where they want to be, so that should be avoided if possible. When you walk through shallow water, try not to disturb the bottom any more than necessary.
So, that’s that. While the current microscope is on Florida, it really could happen anywhere. As a matter of fact, a previous case in 2010 was in Little Rock, Arkansas. So, this advice is not really limited to Florida. Perhaps you should take the precautions listed above as a general rule.