Texas resident dies from brain-eating amoeba after swimming in lake in Austin

A resident in Texas has died from a brain-eating amoeba after swimming in a lake near Austin.

The individual, who was not named, went swimming in Lake Lyndon B. Johnson earlier this month before contracting the infection.

Local health officials said the patient had developed an illness caused by Naegleria fowleri — which kills 99 percent of people it infects. 

The individual is thought to be at least the fourth US casualty from the amoeba this year, after a resident in Georgia, two-year-old boy in Nevada and a man in Florida all died after contracting the disease.

Pictured above is Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, which is about an hour outside Austin, Texas. A patient who swam in the lake has died after contracting an amoeba infection

‘Although these infections are very rare, this is an important reminder that there are microbes present in natural bodies of water that can pose risks of infection,’ said Dr Desmar Walkes, a health official in Austin-Travis County.

‘Increased temperatures over the summer make it ideal for harmful mirco-organisms to grow and flourish.’

People can be infected by the amoeba when water goes up their nose, which can happen during swimming, diving or putting the head underwater.

The amoeba triggers an infection in the nose before traveling along nerves up to the brain, where it can prove fatal.

Patients suffer mild symptoms at first such as a headache, fever, nausea or vomiting, which begin about five days after infection.

But these quickly progress to more serious warning signs such as confusion, hallucination, loss of balance and seizures.

Patients die about five days after symptoms appear, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

Infections with the amoeba are rare in the US, with only 157 cases recorded between 1962 and 2022 — or less than three cases per year. Thirty-nine of these — or 25 percent — were in Texas.

Over the last decade up to five cases have been reported every year, according to the CDC.

Experts, fear, however, that infections with the amoeba will become more common because of rising temperatures.

The organism lives in freshwater and multiplies whenever the water temperature rises above 77F (25C), raising the risk of infection for swimmers.

Health officials say one of the best ways to avoid the disease is not to swim in bodies of warm fresh water, which could harbor the microbe.

They also advise limiting the amount of water going up the nose by using nose clips or keeping the head above the water.

Officials also say people should avoid disturbing the sediment on the bottom of the lake or river where the amoeba may lurk.

People are being urged not to swim in warm freshwater in order to avoid catching the infection

People are being urged not to swim in warm freshwater in order to avoid catching the infection

The individual was believed to have caught Naegleria fowleri after taking a dip in a freshwater lake or pond in the state

The case comes about a month after a person in Georgia also died after contracting the brain-eating amoeba.

The individual, who was also not named, was believed to have caught the amoeba after swimming in a freshwater lake or pond.

The Georgia Department of Health revealed the case over the weekend and is advising people avoid swimming in warm water. 

The department did not reveal where the individual had been swimming before they were diagnosed with the disease.

There are more than 30 lakes in Georgia, with the most popular — Lake Lanier in the north of the state — seeing up to 11million visitors every year. 

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