A nine-year-old Virginia boy died on Aug. 5 from what authorities believe was a rare infection associated with a water-borne amoeba that attacks the brain.
The family of Christian Alexander Strickland believes he was infected after he went to a fishing camp where he spent a good deal of time in the water. His death came only days after Florida teenager Courtney Nash died after contracting the amoebic infection while swimming in the St. John 's River during the first week of August.
Strickland's official cause of death was meningitis which his aunt, Bonnie Strickland, told The Richmond Times-Dispatch was likely caused by Naegleria folweri, which is sometimes called "brain-eating amoeba."
"The doctor described it to us as such a slight chance that they didn't even think it would be possible," she said.
While the Virginia Department of Health told the newspaper it does not comment on individual cases, it confirmed that a case of meningitis and an infection by the bug has occurred in the state.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the deadly amoeba is usually found in stagnant water in freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers when water temperatures rise above 80 degrees. The amoeba typically enters the body through the nose and then attacks the brain and spinal cord, often resulting in death in a matter of days.
The agency said Naegleria infections are extremely rare. Between 2001 and 2010, only 32 infections were reported in the U.S.
Wearing nose plugs while swimming in warm freshwater sources can reduce the risk of contracting the waterborne illness, according to the CDC, which said swimmers should also refrain from swallowing the water and disturbing sediment at the bottom of such bodies of waters.