Five years ago today a boy named Zachary Reyna from LaBelle passed away after fighting a hard battle with a brain-eating amoeba. He was only 12 years old.
Today as we remember Zac, we also want to help spread awareness about the amoeba he died from and how you can keep yourself safe.
The amoeba is also known as naegleria fowleri and is a parasite, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In rare cases like Zac’s it can cause an infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis.
It’s found in freshwater like rivers, lakes, poorly maintained pools and soil all over the world and in the U.S.
It’s common in lakes in southern states and mainly appears during July, August and September.
You can get infected when the water containing the amoeba enters your body through your nose and travels up to your brain. The good news is that you can’t be infected by drinking it, and it can’t be spread from one person to another.
According to the CDC, from the year 1972 to 2017, only four people survived out of the 143 known cases of infected people.
Although infections are rare, you can prevent it by assuming the amoeba is in all freshwater. Try to keep your head out of the water to stop it from going up your nose, or use nose plugs.
More information can be found on the CDC’s website .