The waterborne parasite known as the "brain-eating amoeba" is as bad as it sounds and it has caused the deaths of at least two young people this month. The rare but extremely deadly parasite that causes amoebic meningoencephalitis, an infection that attacks the brain and spine, can be found in stagnant freshwater during hot weather. The parasite killed a 9-year-old boy in Virginia earlier this month and a 16-year-old girl in Florida this week, ABC reports.
The parasite is so rare that some years pass without a single infection, although it killed six people in the US during the hot summer of 2007. Symptoms of infection include headaches, vomiting, and neck stiffness. Experts say using nose clips when swimming in freshwater can reduce the risk of infection. "Prevention is the only thing you have," says the Texas father who founded the Kyle Lewis Amoeba Awareness Foundation to raise public awareness of the parasite after his 7-year-old son died last year. "As a father who lost a child, I'm asking, why didn't I know about this?"