Florida Health Department issues warning after rare, brain-destroying amoeba found

Rob Wile

The Florida Department of Health issued a warning Friday on the dangers of a rare, brain-destroying amoeba as it confirmed a Hillsborough County resident had been infected.

The single-celled organism known as Naegleria Fowleri usually enters through the nose before traveling to the brain, where it can trigger a fatal condition.

There have been just 37 reported cases since 1962.

But because of the danger posed by the amoeba, the department reminded residents to avoid water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater, hot springs, or thermally polluted water like water around power plants; or when water temperatures are high and water levels are low.

Digging up sediment in fresh water, using neti pots to rinse sinuses, or performing religious rituals with tap water can also lead to interaction with the organism, the department said.

Peak season for contact with the amoeba occurs in July, August and September, it said.

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