|Pictured Above: St. John’s River, Mims, Florida |
16-year-old Courtney Nash from Mims has died from her suspected amoeba infection.
Rumors of her death had been circulating on social media sites for several hours prior to the official announcement by Brevard County Fire Rescue.
The Brevard County Health Department has been notified of a probable case of Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM). The health department is waiting on confirmation of the case from the Center for Disease Control.
PAM is caused by a microscopic amoebas (mostly Naegleria fowleri species) commonly found in the upper layer of sediment in the bottom of lakes and ponds with mud floors. They also can be present in poorly maintained swimming pools and hot tubs. This infection cannot be spread from person to person or contracted from a properly maintained swimming pool.
Symptoms of an infection include headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance and bodily control, seizures and hallucinations. The public is urged to contact a medical professional immediately if experiencing any of these symptoms.
The threat of infection, although rare, increases during the summer months when the water temperature rises. The amoeba invades the brain and the disease progresses rapidly usually resulting in death within 3 to 7 days.
Prevention is the key. CDC and the Brevard County Health Department recommends the following:
1. Don’t swim or jump into warm, stagnant, fresh water, such as ponds or warm water discharge pools, or unchlorinated swimming pools;
2. Don’t swim in polluted water;
3. Don’t swim in areas posted as “No Swimming;” and
4. Hold your nose, or use nose plugs when jumping or diving into water.
For further information, please contact the Brevard County Health Department, Epidemiology
Department at (321) 454-7101.