October 4, 2023

The Catholic Transcript

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Boy dies after contact with ‘brain-eating amoeba’

Published on 08/18/2021 8:01 PM / Updated on 8/18/2021 8:02 PM

David is suspected of contracting the amoeba after swimming in a lake on the family property – Credit: Crystal Hayley/Gofundme/Reproduction

A 7-year-old boy died just one week after coming into contact with a rare first bird in Tihama County, California (USA). David Pruitt developed an illness called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, after swimming in a lake on family property. This disease is caused by a very rare parasite that bears a common, suggestive name: ‘brain-eating amoeba’.

The scientific name of the parasite is Nigeria Follieri It is known that it breeds in places where there is fresh, stagnant and warm water. Contamination occurs through the nose, after which the microorganism settles in the brains of the victims. According to medical literature, the disease is fatal in 97% of cases. So far, less than 400 cases have been recorded worldwide.

In California, where David fell ill, only 10 cases have been reported from 1971 to date. According to the family, the development of the condition was rapid. The first stage is usually characterized by fever, nausea, and vomiting. As the infection progresses, there may be muscle stiffness, seizures, and hallucinations.

The 7-year-old was taken to a local hospital on July 30 and moved to the intensive care unit shortly thereafter. He had to be put on life support machines, but he still couldn’t resist. The death was on the seventh of last August, after doctors discovered severe swelling of the brain.

On a crowdfunding platform, the family is trying to raise $30,000 to cover hospital costs and bury the baby. Crystal Hayley, David’s aunt, said the boy’s parents plan to educate other families about the dangers posed by the amoeba.

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This may seem rare to you, but it is rare for doctors to check this possibility ahead of time. Parents, family members, and adults should know and report the signs, and need to ask clinicians to listen and advocate for who may have contracted this amoeba,” he wrote on the fundraising page.