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Infection That Attacks Brain Reemerges in Florida

State warns swimmers to be careful in warm freshwater
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2020 11:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – The brain-eating amoeba has resurfaced in Florida. The state's Health Department has confirmed the case, saying only that the patient is in Hillsborough County. Naegleria fowleri usually is found in warm freshwater environments, including ponds, rivers and lakes. The state did not say where the infection was contracted, the Tampa Bay Times reports. More common in the South and usually fatal, the infection can destroy brain tissue. Florida has reported 37 cases since 1962. Symptoms can include fever, nausea, hallucinations, headaches and seizures. Nationally, only four of the 143 people known to have become infected survived.

"Adverse health effects on humans can be prevented by avoiding nasal contact with the waters, since the amoeba enters through nasal passages," the Health Department said. The agency's advice included suggesting swimmers pinch their nose when in warm freshwater, per CNN. Bodies of warm freshwater near power plants should be avoided, as should any shallow areas when the water temperature is high. For people rinsing congested sinuses, the state said, a neti pot can be a problem. "Use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions," the Health Department said. (Read more brain eating amoeba stories.)

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