Virginia Beach, Va. – Right now two young teens, one in Arkansas and another in Florida, are fighting a rare but very deadly infection. It’s called Naegleria Fowleri or the brain-eating amoeba.
Health officials say it lives in fresh water and is found mostly in lakes, ponds and even slow-moving rivers.
They say only one person in the U.S. has survived it to date.
And it could be lurking in Hampton Roads including places like Stumpy Lake in Virginia Beach where the water is shallow, calm, and muddy at the bottom.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been six cases reported in Virginia. All of them were in the late 1960’s, but that doesn’t include one just two years ago near Richmond.
“It enters through the nose and then it travels up through the olfactory nerve into the brain,” Dayle Daines of ODU.
But, as Dayle Daines, who does infectious disease research and teaches at ODU, explains it’s extremely rare.
“Millions and millions of people get in the water every year and very, very few of them get this bug and by the same token thousands drown,” says Daines.
But at the same time, she says it’s something to be aware of and take seriously.
“I would not swim and dunk my head into shallow warm water particularly in the summer, or wear nose clips,” says Daines.