Federal health officials confirmed Friday that a Nebraska child died of a rare infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba after swimming in a river near Omaha.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed the presence of the amoeba naegleria fowleri in the child, according to the Douglas County Health Department in Omaha.
Health officials believe the child was infected while swimming in the Elkhorn River, a few miles west of Omaha, on Sunday. Authorities have not released the child’s name.
People are usually infected when water containing the amoeba enters the body through the nose while swimming or diving into lakes and rivers. Other sources have been documented, including contaminated tap water in a Houston-area city in 2020.
This is the second death in the Midwest this summer from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an infection caused by the amoeba that has been fatal in 97% of reported cases. A Missouri resident died of the infection in July after swimming at Lake of the Three Fires in southwestern Iowa, health officials said.
Symptoms of infection include fever, headache, nausea or vomiting, progressing to stiff neck, loss of balance, hallucinations and seizures.
The CDC says naegleria fowleri infections are rare, with about three cases in the United States each year. There have been 154 cases reported between 1962 and 2021 in the United States, with only four survivors. Only about 430 cases have been documented worldwide.
In the United States, amoeba infections typically occur in southern states because the amoeba thrives in waters warmer than 86 degrees Fahrenheit. But infections have migrated north in recent years, including two cases in Minnesota since 2010.