The 14-year-old boy who recently developed meningitis symptoms from a brain-eating amoeba in a Minnesota lake is said to be in critical condition. The boy, who has been identified as Hunter Bountain, is currently being treated at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.
The Minnesota Health Department confirmed that the boy developed the symptoms of the infection after taking a swim in Lake Minnewaska in Pope County. The state health department is still investigating whether the boy has contracted a rare form of meningitis, called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
PAM occurs when an amoeba species called Naegleria fowleri is able to translocate itself from the water to the brain of an individual, through his or her nasal cavity. According to Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, amoeba is harmless unless a person inhales the infected water through his or her nose.
“Now the amoeba is plastered up in the mucus membranes of the nose and eats its way into structures of the nose and gets into the brain,” said Schaffner, in a statement. “They’re just moving around and trying to live and they cause tissue destruction and inflammation.”
The symptoms of amoeba infection include headache, fever and disorientation. However, the infection can sometimes become really difficult to treat and sometimes an antibiotic intervention is required.
Trisha Robinson, supervisor of the Waterborne Diseases Unit, says that even though there is a low risk of contracting infection from Naegleria in freshwater, it is still advisable to avoid freshwater-related activities. In addition, officials have suggested people keep their heads above the water level or use nose clips while in the water.