Kids Safety Network

This Brain Eating Amoeba Is Terrible! Here`s How To Prevent

An Ohio teenager died last week from a terrifying cause: A suspected brain-eating amoeba.

Wait, what?

Lauren Seitz, 18, of Westerville, passed away on June 19 as a result of primary amebic meningoencephalitis, reports Fox 26 News

Primary amebic meningoencephalitis is an infection caused by Naegleria fowleri, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

This amoeba can be found naturally in warm lakes during summer months — and infection typically happens when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places. While it doesn’t result in illness if swallowed, the organism can be deadly if is forced up the nose.

This tragic death — coming just weeks after the young woman graduated from high school — happened after she visited the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Seitz had been rafting with others from her church group, according to Fox 26 News. During this trip, the raft in which she was riding had overturned. This is the only underwater exposure known in her case.

Fewer than 10 cases of primary amebic meningoencephalitis have been reported each year in the U.S. in the past 53 years, according to the CDC. There are actually two stages to the infection: Stage one includes a severe frontal headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. Stage two brings a stiff neck, seizures, altered mental status, hallucinations and coma. The condition is almost always fatal.

Even though the chances of a brain-eating amoeba being forced up a person’s nose are extremely low, there are a few precautions parents can take when swimming in warmer areas where the infection has been more common:

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