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Case of rare brain-eating amoeba found in Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Health has confirmed a case of Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba, in Hillsborough County.

According to FDOH, the amoeba can cause a rare infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) that destroys brain tissue and is usually fatal. The amoeba is commonly
found in warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals.

Infections can happen when contaminated water enters through someones nose, FDOH says.

Despite there only being 37 reported cases with exposure in Florida since 1962, the FDOH cautions residents who swim and dive frequently in Florida’s lakes, rivers and ponds during warm temperatures about the possible presence of Naegleria fowleri.

The Florida Department of Health also said exposure to the amoeba may also happen when using neti pots to rinse your sinuses or when conducting religious rituals with tap water.

If you experience any of the following symptoms after swimming in any warm body of water, contact your health care provider immediately.

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Seizures
  • Loss of balance
  • Hallucinations


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