HomeHealthBoy dies from extremely rare brain-eating amoeba after swim in California lake

Boy dies from extremely rare brain-eating amoeba after swim in California lake

- Advertisement -spot_img

A Tehama County boy has died after coming into contact with an extraordinarily rare brain-eating amoeba, his family confirmed.

David Pruitt, 7, died from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, on Aug. 7, said his aunt, Crystal Hayley.

The boy was rushed to the emergency room on July 30 and then flown to UC Davis Medical Center where he was on life support with severe brain swelling, Hayley said in a fundraising site she created for the family to raise funds for his care and funeral.

There have only been 10 PAM cases reported in California since 1971, the Tehama County Health Services Agency said in an Aug. 4 news release. It said the boy was likely infected in a lake in Tehama County but didn’t specify which lake. Tehama County sits between the Mendocino National Forest and Lassen National Forest, and its largest community is Red Bluff.

People who die from PAM are first infected with the naegleria fowleri amoeba, usually found in bodies of fresh water like lakes or rivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most infections occur through the nose while people are swimming or diving. 

Early symptoms include severe headache, fever and nausea, progressing to stage two symptoms like seizures, hallucinations and coma. Symptoms are similar to bacterial meningitis, one of the reasons diagnosis can be difficult. “PAM is difficult to detect because the disease progresses rapidly so that diagnosis is usually made after death,” notes the CDC. Data from the agency shows 148 PAM infections were recorded in the U.S. between 1962 and 2019; only four people survived. The majority of cases were in males and children.

Using the direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) staining technique, this photomicrograph depicts the histopathologic characteristics associated with a case of amebic meningoencephalitis due to Naegleria fowleri parasites. Image courtesy CDC/Dr. Govinda S. Visvesvara

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

“The extremely low occurrence of PAM makes epidemiologic study difficult. It is unknown why certain persons become infected with the amebae while millions of others exposed to warm recreational fresh waters, including those who were swimming with people who became infected, do not,” says the CDC.

“No method currently exists that accurately and reproducibly measures the numbers of amebae in the water,” it continues. “This makes it unclear how a standard might be set to protect human health and how public health officials would measure and enforce such a standard.”

A GoFundMe for the Pruitt family has raised nearly $20,000 of its $30,000 goal.

“The family is extremely thankful, humbled, and feel so blessed to know people care so deeply for them and have and are still praying for them and have donated what they can to help them during this tragic time,” Hayley wrote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


- Advertisement -spot_img
- Advertisement -spot_img
Stay Connected
Must Read
- Advertisement -spot_img
Related News
- Advertisement -spot_img