Officials: Brain-Eating Amoeba Killed California Woman

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

An unidentified 21-year-old woman from Bishop, California, who died last month after taking a nap, was infected with a brain-eating amoeba, also known as Naegleria fowleri.

Inyo County Public Health officials told the Los Angeles Times that they believe she contracted the amoeba on private property. Most victims pick up the amoeba in poorly maintained pools and warm bodies of fresh water. 

On June 16, the victim woke up with a headache and began vomiting. She went to Northern Inyo Hospital, where she was diagnosed with meningitis. However, she grew sicker and was flown to a hospital in Reno, Nevada, where she suffered from cardiac arrest and died.

“This is a tragic event for someone who becomes infected, as well as their family,” said  Public Health Officer Richard Johnson. “I feel that it is important for all of us to be informed even though it does not affect lots of people each year.”

Johnson stressed that locals were not at risk of infection. “The investigation will continue, and all appropriate measures will be taken to involve and inform affected parties of any actions needing to be carried out to minimize any risk to persons in the future,” he said.

Infections of this nature are relatively uncommon, but they are deadly. Just 133 cases of the infection have been reported over the past 53 years, but only three have ever survived, CBS Sacramento reported.

“I want to emphasize that there have been no evident cases of amoeba contamination in the U.S. in well-maintained, properly treated swimming pools or hot springs,” Johnson said.

Sources: The Los Angeles Times, CBS Sacramento Image via Center for Disease Control/Wikimedia Commons