Words by Chan Bam
In the final weeks of summer, there’s still time for pool parties, jet skiing and hanging out at lakes – but there’s a slim chance you could contract a deadly infection?
Summer killjoy – I know.
There’s a report of a young boy, in Florida (of ALL places), who contracted a rare brain-eating parasite (naegleria fowleri) recently. 12 year old Zach Reyna came home from enjoying water sports with friends, and slept through the entire next day. For a parent, an active pre-teen who sleeps all day, is a red flag.
Zach’s parents took him to the hospital, thankfully in time to diagnose his case and had emergency brain surgery, to save his life.
Reyna is the second case in the last couple of months. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says this parasite is extremely rare, less than 3 dozen cases in the previous decade – most reports from the Southeast states.
This deadly infectious parasite, Naegleria fowleri, is said to be found in hot springs and warm fresh water. The parasite (amoeba) enters through the nose and makes its way to the brain. Us Californians don’t really have much to worry about, as our beach waters are dirty AF – and ain’t sh*t fresh about it. As for you Floridians or other southeast states, you may want to jot down these notes.
The previously mentioned report from last month is from an Arkansas resident. Another incident, from 2010 is accounted fir in the same area – Little Rock, to be specific. These two reports raise much caution, as both were from the same body of water.
As a swimmer or parent of a swimmer, what can you do and what are some of the warning signs?
First things first, since this infection moves quickly – takes up to 12 days before fatality, pick up on signs early. Early symptoms are headache, fever, vomiting and stiff neck after an aquatic adventure. Latter symptoms include more serious affects, like seizures and hallucinations.
To prepare yourself prior to your next Nemo-dip, make sure to keep the following in mind: avoid swimming in fresh waters, especially when temps are high and water levels are low (i.e. at a lake or river); use nose clips or hold your nose when down under.
During my reading, I also found an article posted on CNN a few months ago that may peak your marine interests.
Some disturbing stuff in this article: Yuck! Know What’s In Your Pool Water – cnn.com
Happy and healthy swimming!
Words by Chan Bam