A RARE brain-eating infection has been discovered in a Missouri patient shocking doctors who are sounding the alarm about the life-threatening disease.
The unidentified man is hospitalized at a Jefferson City hospital after coming down with the brain-eating amoeba known as Naegleria fowleri.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Naegleria is a single-celled ameba that can cause a rare, life-threatening brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis.
The CDC says the amoeba lives in warm freshwaters, such as lakes, rivers, ponds, hot springs and soil.
Naegleria fowleri infects people when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose.
The ameba then travels up the nose to the brain, where it destroys the brain tissue.
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Health officials in Missouri believe the man contacted the infection at Lake of Three Fires near Bedford, Iowa, about two hours north of Kansas City.
It’s the first confirmed case in the state in 35 years, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced Thursday.
Since 1962, only 154 known cases have been identified in the US.
The only other case identified in a Missouri resident occurred in 1987, according to DHSS.
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Despite the unusual infection, the amoeba cannot spread from one person to another and cannot be contacted by swallowing contaminated water.
Symptoms can include severe headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, seizures, altered mental state, and hallucinations.
Health officials said people could take action to reduce the risk of infection by limiting the amount of water going up the nose.
People are encouraged to hold their noses shut by using nose clips or keeping their heads above water when participating in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater.
Experts also advise people to avoid putting their heads under the water in hot springs and other untreated thermal waters.
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