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Protecting yourself against brain-eating infection

3:49 PM, Aug 14, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Health issued a warning about a deadly infection that can be contracted from swimming in lakes, rivers and ponds.

Florida's hot summers heat up fresh waters and they can host an amoeba that causes brain infections.

A boy in Glades County, near Okeechobee, contracted the disease apparently from swimming in a ditch.

Dr. Carina Blackmore of the Florida Department of Health says the infection is very rare. Florida might see one case a year.

"The concern that we have about it is that the people who get it, while rare, the people who do get it tend to get very ill and many of them end up dying from the disease," Blackmore said.

Dr. Blackmore says the disease is so dangerous, the department wants to offer some advice.

"Avoiding swimming, jumping or diving in warm, shallow, fresh water bodies and if you do swim, keep your head above water or hold your nose while under the water because it's thought that the infection, the amoeba, gets into the brain through the nose."

Dr. Blackmore explains symptoms of the infection.

"It starts out with a headache and people get nauseated and vomit from the disease. Then when the disease gets more severe, signs of brain infection such as stiff neck, even more severe headache, seizures, convulsions and coma is the progression of the disease."

There were only about 30 cases in the U.S over the past decade and most of them were in the Southeast.

First Coast News

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