CDC to Test Virginia Waterways for Deadly Amoeba

Monday, Aug 22, 2011  |  Updated 2:04 PM EDT
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CDC to Test VA Water for Deadly Amoeba

CDC

Histopathology of amebic meningoencephalitis due to Naegleria fowleri seen under direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) stain. Parasite, ameba.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are asking for samples from Virginia waterways to develop a test for detecting a deadly microscopic amoeba.

Three people have died this summer from amoebic meningoencephalitis, a condition brought on by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri.

It thrives in warm rivers and lakes during the summer, especially in the South.

One of the deaths came this month, when a nine-year-old Virginia boy died after going to a fishing day camp in Richmond.

The amoeba gets up in the nose, burrows into the skull, and then destroys brain tissue.

"It's a terrible disease that we would like to know more about and be able to tell the public more about from a prevention standpoint," said Michael Beach, the federal agency's associate director for healthy water. "We are trying to learn more, but it's a tough one because it's such a rare occurrence."

Beach says it’s a difficult situation because millions of people swim in water with the amoeba, but only a few die each year.

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