Warning About Brain Eating Amoebas
Before you head on out to a lake or river for the holiday weekend, health officials are warning swimmers about a tiny, but deadly risk.
Little Lake Weir a place where hundreds of people go swimming, jet skiing and boating.
While many enjoy their recreational time here, everyone should know their at risk of an infection called Naegleria.
"I have heard it for years and years, but I've never really paid no mind when I am out here," said Daniel Setzer.
"I don't think it's that big of a deal with all the people that go in the water every year," said Derek Hernandez.
Naegleria is an amoeba which you can not see.
Daniel Dooley with the Florida Department of Health in Marion County said the amoeba lives in lakes, rivers, hot springs and draining retention ponds.
"Naegleria has to go up inside your nose in order for it to cause the infection in your brain," said Dooley.
Amoebas are most prevalent near the shore, where most children splash and swim.
Yolanda Harrison said she talks to her grandchildren about the risk when taking them swimming.
"I don't want them to get sick. I don't want them to die. I want them to have fun and be health," said Harrison.
The infection most commonly occurs during the summer months when the water is the warmest.
Using nose plugs or swim mask can decrease the chance of being infected.
"You don't want to stir up the sediments because that is where they live and you have more of a chance of getting in the water that you're in," said Dooley.
If infected, it causes a disease called primary amoebic meningo-encephalitis.
The symptoms start one to 14 days after being infected.
"Unfortunately the symptoms are very similar to lots of things like food poisoning. Fever, headache, but stick neck is slightly one of the unusal ones," said Dooley.
So if you get these symptoms and remember you recently went swimming in freshwater, it's best to seek medical attention.
The infection usually kills within 3 to 7 days.
From 1962 to 2011, there have been 33 cases reported in the sunshine state.
All 33 people died from the disease.
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