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A brain eating amoeba has claimed the life of a four year old boy this week, according to officials in Mississippi.
The identity of the young boy has not been released, but it appears that he contracted the brain-eating Naegleria fowleri (N. fowleri) amoeba while visiting a home in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana in August.
The water at the Louisiana home was tested, and officials have confirmed that it tested positive for the amoeba. It is believed that the young boy contracted the amoeba when he was playing with the water.
"The child contracted it by playing for a very long period of time on a slip n' slide in the front yard of the residence they were visiting," Parish President Dave Peralta said.
Officials have also confirmed that the parish's water supply didn't test positive for the amoeba, but St. Bernard Parish has still decided to treat it as a precautionary measure.
N. fowleri amoeba is found in fresh water all over the earth, including lakes, ponds, mud puddles and untreated swimming pools, according to WebMD.
Although the amoeba is relatively common and regularly found, the possibility of contracting the brain-eating amoeba is very rare. Even if the amoeba is detected in a water supply it does not necessarily mean that a person will contract it, as it does not reach the brain through drinking it, but only reaches the brain through the nose.
The amoeba so rarely affects people that only a handful contract it each year, however, it is almost always lethal to those who are infected by it.
"Ninety-nine percent of people who get it die," Dr. Dirk Haselow of the Arkansas Department of Health said.
Symptoms include vomiting, fever, headache and loss of appetite.
At first the infection caused by the amoeba does not usually seem that serious, however, as the infection spreads, seizures and hallucinations are common, and many have fallen into a coma as they are overwhelmed by the infection.
Here is a previous news report from earlier this summer into the brain-eating amoeba: