News Politics The Economy Health Education The
Monday, October 08, 2012
Published August 29, 2012
“Two young boys died after being
infected by a lake parasite”
Nathan’ette Burdine-Follow on
nine-year-old Minnesota boy, Jack Ariola, and an eight-year-old South Carolina
boy, Blake Driggers, died from a brain infection caused by the parasite,
Naegleri fowleri. According to the CDC, the parasite enters through the nose and
makes its way up to the brain and causes death.
The parasite is generally found in lakes located in a more tropical or
warmer region, like the South, of the country.
The chances of being infected tend to increase during the hottest months
of the year, which are July, August, and September. And due to this summer’s higher temperatures, the chances
of being infected in a less tropical area, like Minnesota, have increased.
According to KTSP’s Leslie Rolander article, “Family mourns
Stillwater boy who died from apparent amebic infection,” nine year old Jack
Ariola contracted the infection, during the first week in August, while swimming
in Lily Lake in Stillwater, Minnesota. Due
to the boy’s death, the lake was closed.
The State’s Mindy Lucas wrote in her article “Amoeba
kills Sumter youth” that eight-year-old Blake Driggers was infected around
July 7, 2012, during a family outing at Lake Marion.
His symptoms occurred rather rapidly.
And within seven days, Driggers’ body temperature had increased.
A high fever and then vomiting followed. His family rushed him to Columbia, SC., to Palmetto Health
Children’s Hospital. And by
Sunday, the young boy was not responding.
all accounts, the Naegleri fowleri parasite can be considered the perfect
adapter. According to the CDC, the
parasite is found in common places like warm freshwater lakes, rivers, hot
springs, and soil. The parasite can
also be found in contaminated waters such as poorly chlorinated pool water or
poorly heated (below 47˚C) tap water.
The low infection rate and the high death rate are two main problems
scientists face in finding a successful treatment for the disease. Based on the CDC’s report, there were 32 reported cases in
the U.S between 2001-2010. Out of
those 32 cases, 30 people were infected during recreational water activities and
2 people were infected by tap water. While
in South Carolina, the number of infected individuals is even lower.
According to Lucas, the South Carolina Department of Health and
Environmental Control says that since 1970 six people have contracted the
infection. However, the majority of
those cases resulted in death.
infection and death from the parasite occurs rapidly.
The parasite enters through the nose and travels to the brain, where
Primary Amebic Meningonencephalitis (PAM) occurs. According to the CDC, it takes between 1-12 days for the
symptoms and then death to occur. The
initial symptoms include a headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and a stiff neck.
The symptoms can also progress into a person becoming confused, not being
able to recognize familiar people and surroundings, losing his balance, having
seizures, and hallucinations. In
the case of Blake Driggers, Lucas noted that Driggers suffered from the initial
symptoms of a high fever and vomiting. And
his death occurred within seven days.
rapid progression of the disease and the ineffectiveness of treatment are the
reasons why the death rate is so high. According
to the CDC, treatment has not been as successful as they would have liked.
There have been many cases whereby individuals have been treated for the
infection and have died. Between
1962-2011, only 1 person out of 123 infected individuals has survived.
This places the fatality rate over 99.0%.
The CDC does note that the disease is not contagious.
And although a person can contract the disease from tap water, the person
cannot contract the disease by drinking water.
In order for infection to occur, the parasite must enter through the
nose. The CDC recommends avoiding
water-related activities, using nose clips to shut the nose when diving, and not
digging up the soil.