In Brief

New Jersey Man Dies from 'Brain-Eating' Amoeba

naegleria fowleri, n. fowleri
(Image credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

A New Jersey man died after contracting a "brain-eating" amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, according to news reports.

Though it's unclear exactly how the man, 29-year-old Fabrizio Stabile, got the amoeba, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently investigating BSR Cable Park's Surf Resort in Waco, Texas, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported on Sept. 28.

Stabile had used the park's wave pool while on vacation, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Once he returned home to New Jersey, Stabile complained of a severe headache on Sept. 16, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up to spread awareness about N. fowleri. He went on to develop symptoms, including brain swelling and fever, and was pronounced brain dead on Sept. 21.

N. fowleri is an amoeba found in warm fresh water, according to the CDC. People can become infected if water contaminated with the amoeba goes up their nose. From there, the amoeba can travel to the brain, where it causes a severe inflammatory condition called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM. The infection destroys brain tissue, leading to brain swelling and death, the CDC says. [5 Key Facts About Brain-Eating Amoebas]

A person cannot become infected by drinking water contaminated with N. fowleri, the CDC says.

N. fowleri infections are extremely rare: From 1962 to 2017, 143 cases were reported in the U.S., according to the CDC. The infection is also extremely deadly, with a fatality rate exceeding 97 percent, the CDC says. Of the 143 cases reported, only four people survived.

The CDC, along with the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District, is currently testing water samples from the surf resort for the presence of the amoeba, CDC spokesperson Candice Burns Hoffmann told the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Originally published on Live Science.

Sara G. Miller
Staff Writer
Sara is a staff writer for Live Science, covering health. She grew up outside of Philadelphia and studied biology at Hamilton College in upstate New York. When she's not writing, she can be found at the library, checking out a big stack of books.