A Guilford County man died 10 days after he contacted a brain-eating amoeba while swimming. The man named Eddie Gray was 59 years old and an active member of his Methodist church. It was with this church group of his that he went on a swimming trip to Fantasy Lake Water Park on July 12 where he contacted the infection. Fantasy Lake Water Park hasn’t officially commented on the death. The water park is built around an artificial lake.
The amoeba has been identified as Naegleria fowleri. The single cell organism is commonly found in freshwater sources such as lakes and rivers. It is notorious for entering the human body through the nose and climbing up to the brain and damaging the brain tissues. The organisms thrive well in warm and shallow water bodies. The amoeba caused an infection known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis within 10 days of its contact with Gray. The infection proved deadly as the health officials admitted the amoeba to be the cause of the infection.
About 145 cases of such infections have been reported in the US between 1962 and 2018. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rare illness has killed only 4 people so far in the country. The infected patients show early symptoms such as fever, vomiting, nausea and stiff neck. The infection can cause coma and hallucinations at an advanced stage as it affects the central nervous system of the patient. Diagnosis of the illness is very difficult because of its short incubation period, said the CDC.
Zack Moore, the state epidemiologist said that “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.”