Health officials usually record as many as eight deaths in any given year.
Health officials usually record as many as eight deaths in any given year. This summer at least two deaths have been reportedly caused by a waterborne amoeba entering through one's nostrils and heading toward the brain. Google

Christian Alexander Strickland, 9, of Henrico County, Va. became the second amoeba death in the United States after he was infected while at a fishing camp and died from amoeba meningitis on Aug. 5, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The suspected cause of the illness was caused by Naegleria fowleri, often referred to as, "brain-eating amoeba," the boy's aunt Bonnie Strickland told the Richmond newspaper.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say Naegleria is a microscopic amoeba (single-celled living organism) that can cause a very rare, but severe, infection of the brain, and that amoeba is commonly found in warm, occasionally, in neglected, non-chlorinated freshwater - lakes, rivers, and hot springs - and soil.

Naegleria fowleri does not pose a threat to swimmers in local springs, well-maintained pools and the ocean, cannot be transmitted from person to person, and "enters the nasal passages... and migrates to the olfactory nerves, eventually invading the brain," according to the agency.

The first death in 2011 occurred in June in Louisiana, according to the CDC.

Dr. Keri Hall, state epidemiologist at the Virginia Department of Health, said in a statement: "Sadly, we have had a Naegleria infection in Virginia this summer. It's important that people be aware of … safe swimming messages."

Symptoms of an infection include headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance and bodily control, seizures and hallucinations.

Earlier this month, 16-year-old Courtney Nash of Florida died from a Naegleria fowleri infection she developed after swimming in the St. John's River, ABC News reported.

Nash died Saturday, 10 days after she, her brother and four friends went swimming Aug. 3 in the St. Johns River on Florida's east coast, her uncle, Thomas Uzel, said at a news conference.

"They were having fun just like any other kid would out in the water," Uzel said.

Out of 118 people reported to have had the amoeba infection since 1962, only one survived, and most reported cases have been in the southern states of Florida and Texas, Yoder said.

Yoder said the average age of the amoeba victims is 12.

Researchers report that the amoebas proliferate when the water temperature reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but they also survive at cooler temperatures.

Anti-fungal drugs are effective against the amoeba in the laboratory, but the infection in humans typically cannot be diagnosed quickly enough to save the patient.

"I didn't get my miracle, but she has performed other miracles. If we can save other people's lives so they don't have to go through what I just went though, this could be a blessing in disguise," said Patricia Nash, about her daughter.

Currently, there is no known treatment for people who develop a brain infection with this bug, said Dr. Roy Gulick, chief of infectious disease at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, MSNBC reported.