Child dies after swimming in US river

A child died this week in the US suspected of having contracted primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM. The disease is caused by a parasite known as a “brain-eating amoeba”. With the scientific name of naegleria fowleri, it can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting and stiff neck; as well as swelling in the brain, which can lead to death.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is carrying out tests to confirm the cause of the infection, Lindsay Huse, director of the Douglas County Health Department, told NBC.

“Right now, we’re just asking the public to be aware and take precautions when exposed to any source of hot and fresh water,” Huse told a news conference.

If confirmed, this will be the first recorded death caused by naegleria fowleri in Nebraska’s history, the state Department of Health and Human Services said.

The child died this week in Douglas County, which encompasses Omaha and communities west of the city, the county health department said in a press release.

Lindsay declined to give details about the victim’s identity out of respect for the family. She said only that the child went swimming in the River Elkhorn on the 8th and developed symptoms about five days later.

The child was hospitalized 48 hours after the onset of symptoms. “The death occurred 10 days after the child had swam in the river,” Kari Neemann, a medical consultant for Douglas County, told NBC.

The amoeba is a single-celled organism and lives in fresh, warm water such as lakes, streams and hot springs, but it can also be found in soil.

People can become infected if a lot of contaminated water enters the nose. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting and stiff neck. The infection destroys brain tissue, causing brain swelling and death.

About three people in the US are infected each year, and they usually end up dying, according to the CDC. In recent years, the amoeba has been found more frequently in the northern states of the US. According to the agency, this is happening because of the average increase in air and water temperatures, consequences of climate change.

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