Brain-eating amoebas have been blamed for the death of a 21-year-old woman California who has remained unnamed, officials say.
It started two weeks ago when she had a headache and began to vomit. After being unable to shake the symptoms within a day, she went to the hospital on June 17, Fox News reports.
Originally she was diagnosed with meningitis but was later flown to a hospital in Reno, Nev., after her condition deteriorated, and she died, prompting testing by the CDC. The cause of death was later identified as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis or PAM, a rare infection caused by Naegleria fowleri, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports.
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Naegleria fowleri, commonly referred to as the "brain eating amoeba," is a single-celled living organism that rarely infects humans. However, when it does, it's usually fatal.
Over the past 53 years, 133 cases have been reported in the U.S., with only three of the infected surviving.
What's interesting about this parasite is that it can only infect you through the nose. You can't become infected when drinking water contaminated by it.
It is unclear how the woman contracted the brain-eating amoeba. However, health officials said they are fairly certain she was "infected on private land," which is not accessible by the general public.
Dr. Richard Johnson said officials will inspect the property to determine whether there is cause for concern.
The CDC recommends using distilled or sterile water in neti pots, properly chlorinating pools and avoiding head submersion in still water to reduce one's risk of infection.