On Friday, July 3, the Florida Department of Health confirmed a single case of a person infected with an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. Officials say that infections are rare and preventable.

However, when infected, it could cause serious effects as it could affect the brain and is potentially fatal. Experts say the amoeba could potentially cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), wherein the infection attacks the brain tissue.

According to health alerts, the amoeba can be found in freshwater bodies of water such as ponds, rivers, lakes, and canals. With prevention strategies, officials say families will still be allowed to swim safely in Florida.

Infections occur when contaminated water gets inside the nose, which then provides a pathway for the amoeba to enter the brain. The brain is warm and moist, similar to the lakes and hot springs where the amoeba thrives. However, the brain does not contain bacteria for the amoeba to eat; therefore, the organism attacks brain cells for nutrients instead.

The health department added that infections usually take place when temperatures rise for prolonged periods of time.

Furthermore, this would result in high water temperatures and low water levels. Moreover, the peak season for this particular amoeba is between July and September.

The health department wrote that there are only 37 reported cases of exposure in Florida since 1962. Furthermore, the authority warns those who frequently swim and dive in Florida's rivers, lakes, and ponds to heed warnings about the possible presence of Naegleria fowleri.

They added that detrimental health effects could be prevented by avoiding nasal contact with the waters since they usually enter the body through the nasal passages.

Read Also: Teen Dies From Infection With Brain-Eating Amoeba

How to Prevent Amoeba Infection

The Hillsborough County Health Department has given guidelines to prevent infections from the deadly amoeba. First of all, the department advises avoiding water-related activities in hot springs, warm freshwater, and thermally polluted water like the water around power plants.

Additionally, they also suggest refraining from activities in warm freshwater when high water temperature and low water levels are reported.

In unavoidable cases that you need to partake in water activities, use nose clips to hold the nose shut to ensure that no water gets inside the nasal passages. Moreover, avoid stirring up or digging the sediment around shallow, warm freshwater areas as they might be contaminated with the amoeba.

Health Checks with Naegleria Fowleri Infection

Health experts say that exposure to the brain-eating amoeba could also occur when using neti pots to rinse sines using fresh or tap water. The health department suggests only using distilled, sterile, or boiled and cooled water for draining sinuses and other activities.

For people who experience headaches, nausea, fever, vomiting, disorientation, stiff neck, seizures, loss of balance, or hallucinations, health officials urge seeking medical help as soon as possible. This would be most advised, particularly for those with a history of swimming in a warm body of water.

The Hillsborough County Health Department wrote in an email that symptoms of the infection rapidly progress shortly after the onset of symptoms which is why prompt treatment is necessary for life-saving measures.

Also Read: Deadly Amoeba Found: Texas Authorities Warn Summer Swimmers to Avoid Freshwater