Boy, 7, dies of 'extremely rare' brain infection after lake swim

·News Reporter
·2-min read

A boy has died after contracting an extremely rare brain-eating amoeba from a lake.

David Pruitt, 7, of Tehama County in California’s north, died from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, on August 7, his aunt Crystal Hayley said.

Ms Hayley wrote on a GoFundMe page her nephew was rushed to hospital with severe brain swelling on July 30.

On August 8, she wrote that David had died. His parents are yet to comment on his death.

Ms Hayley said “they want people to be aware of this amoeba and the illness signs.”

David Pruitt, 7, is pictured.
David Pruitt, 7, died from an extremely rare brain-eating amoeba. Source: GoFundMe

Tehama County Health Services Agency said in a statement before David’s death that he had an “extremely rare infection”.

“Testing performed by the California Department of Public Health and specialty laboratories were positive for evidence of Naegleria fowleri, the amoeba responsible for PAM,” the agency said.

“The most likely source of infection for this child was swimming in a freshwater lake in Tehama County.”

The agency added there have been only 10 cases since 1971.

“Naegleria fowleri enters the nose, usually while swimming or diving in freshwater,” the agency said.

“People get infected when water containing the amoeba goes up the nose forcefully. From the nose, the amoeba can sometimes migrate to the brain and destroy brain tissue. The amoeba has never been shown to have spread from one person to another.”

In the first stage of infection, patients report having a severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. As the infection worsens, they can develop a stiff neck and experience seizures or hallucinations, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

This photomicrograph of a brain tissue specimen depicts the cytoarchitectural changes associated with a free-living amebic infection, which may have been caused by either a Naegleria fowleri, or an Acanthamoeba sp.
This photomicrograph of a brain tissue specimen believed to have been affected by Naegleria fowleri. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

There have been other cases of people dying after swimming in water with the amoeba.

Tanner Lake Wall, 13, died last August after going for a dip at a North Florida campground and contracting it.

A 44-year-old man also died after contracting it from an indoor swimming pool.

A six-year-old boy from Texas and a 10-year-old girl, also from Texas, are among other deaths from the amoeba.

with The Associated Press

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