Although only a couple of cases of brain-eating amoeba are discovered each year, it is almost always fatal.

WASHINGTON — A Nebraska baby died this week from a suspected case of an “extremely rare” brain-eating amoeba. health officials announced.

A child, whose age has not been released, may have contracted Naegleria fowleri while swimming Sunday in the Elkhorn River in Nebraska, according to a news release from the Douglas County Health Department.

If further research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms the diagnosis, it will be the first known case of Naegleria fowleri in Nebraska history. according to the state health department.

The amoeba is usually found in warm freshwater places such as lakes and rivers and enters the human body through the nose, The CDC explains on its website. It causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which is an infection of the brain that rapidly destroys brain tissue.

The agency emphasized that one cannot get infected by drinking contaminated water.

The Nebraska Department of Health noted that the infection is “extremely rare” but also “almost always fatal.” According to the CDC, the mortality rate is over 97%. Only four people out of 154 known infections in the US from 1962 to 2021 survived.

“Millions of recreational water exposures occur each year, while only 0 to 8 Naegleria fowleri infections are detected every year. Infections typically occur later in the summer, in warmer water with slower currents, in July, August and September,” said Nebraska epidemiologist Dr. Matthew Donahue. “Cases are more common in southern states, but recently there have been found further north. Limiting the possibility of fresh water entering the nose is the best way to reduce the risk of infection.’

Last month a A Missouri man has died after contracting a brain-eating amoeba while swimming in Three Lights Lake near Bedford, Iowa, about 120 miles north of Kansas City. It was The first case was discovered in Iowa since infections were first confirmed in 1962 and possibly ever since, the CDC said.

Last year a A 3-year-old boy was killed by a brain-eating amoeba associated with a site for a site in Arlington, Texas.

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