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Charlotte says brain infection amoeba poses no 'further threat'

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The Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County in an update on the detected recent case of Naegleria fowleri in Charlotte County said that at this time, there is no indication that the amoeba poses any further threat to the community.

The department said investigations will continue to be conducted to further ensure water safety.

Lab results have identified a location where the amoeba may have been contracted. The results only detected the amoeba at a private residence at the time of testing.

DOH-Charlotte, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), public utilities, and community partners continue to coordinate and have implemented protective measures to neutralize any potential risk.

The Florida Department of Health did confirm one person died in Charlotte County after incurring an infection by Naegleria fowleri. The agency said the infection was possibly as a result of sinus rinse practices utilizing tap water.

Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic single-celled living amoeba. In rare situations, the amoeba can cause an infection of the brain calledprimary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Infection with Naegleria fowleri is rare and can only happen when water contaminated with amoebae enters the body through the nose. You cannot be infected by drinking tap water.

As always, residents should follow these best practice safety measures:

  • If your home has been vacant for an extended amount of time, flush your watersystem.
  • When making sinus rinse solutions, use ONLY distilled or sterile water. Tap water should be boiled for at least 1 minute and cooled before sinus rinsing.
  • DO NOT allow water to go up your nose or sniff water into your nose whenbathing, showering, washing your face, or swimming in small hard plastic/blow-up pools.
  • DO NOT jump into or put your head under bathing water (bathtubs, small plastic or inflatable pools) – walk or lower yourself in.
  • Keep small plastic or inflatable pools clean by emptying, scrubbing, and allowing them to dry after each use.
  • Keep your swimming pool adequately disinfected with chlorine before and during use.
  • DO NOT allow children to play unsupervised with hoses or sprinklers, as they may accidentally squirt water up their nose. Avoid slip-n-slides or other activities where it is difficult to prevent water going up the nose or consider using nasal clips for added protection.

DOH-Charlotte is providing nasal clips and educational materials at the location below while supplies last: Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County, 1100 Loveland Blvd., Port Charlotte, FL., 33980

It is essential to seek medical attention right away if you experience any of the following symptoms after a nasal water exposure, such as a sinus rinse: headache, fever, nausea, disorientation, vomiting, stiff neck, seizures, loss of balance, or hallucinations.

For more information on this amoeba, please visit the CDC’s website.

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