It sounds terrifying, but the bacteria is avoidable.
A North Carolina man died from a brain-eating bacteria after going swimming in lake waterpark earlier this month. The technical term for the fatal amoeba is Naegleria fowleri.
The state made the announcement on Friday:
“Our sympathies are with the family and loved ones,” said State Epidemiologist Zack Moore, M.D. “People should be aware that this organism is present in warm freshwater lakes, rivers and hot springs across North Carolina, so be mindful as you swim or enjoy water sports.”
While the disease is very rare — only 145 reported cases in the last 50 years — it is extremely deadly. Just four of those 145 survived.
Symptoms usually emerge as headaches, fever, nausea, or vomiting. Most people are dead within five days.
Flesh eating bacteria and brain eating amoeba. It's like climate change is wreaking havock or something https://t.co/GZOZSCXmDv
— Jeff (@JeffreySOwens) July 26, 2019
The bacteria grows in warm freshwater, so properly chlorinated pools and saltwater are not at risk.
It can only enter the body through the nose — it is not harmful if swallowed. So officials say anyone swimming in warm freshwater should wear a nose plug. Swimmers should also avoid diving or anything else that could force water up the nose.