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Warning: Swimming In Warm, Freshwater Ponds, Lakes And Rivers Could Lead To Deadly Brain Infection

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

State public health officials are warning everyone who swims in Florida’s lakes and rivers this summer to be aware of the potential danger from a rare amoeba that attacks the brain.

The Naegleria Fowleri amoeba enters the body through the nose and can cause what’s called Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis.  Death typically follows five days after infection.

To protect yourself against this deadly parasite, the Florida Department of Health recommends not playing around in bodies of warm freshwater or hot springs.

But, if you do, either pinch your nose closed or use nose clips to keep from being infected.

And, be careful not to stir up the sediment on the bottom.

There have also been cases associated with neti pots which are used to alleviate sinus congestion.

The Federal Food and Drug Administration recommends thoroughly cleaning the neti pot after every use.  And never use unfiltered tap water.

Symptoms of Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis include headache, fever, nausea, disorientation, vomiting, stiff neck, seizures, loss of balance and hallucinations.

Health officials say you should seek medical attention immediately if you come down with any of these symptoms soon after swimming in a warm pond, river or lake.

There have been 123 reported cases of infection  since 1962.

Click here for more information.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.