Featured Stories

Florida teen hospitalized with rare brain-eating amoeba

(Port Charlotte, FL) — A Florida teen is clinging to life in a Port Charlotte hospital after contracting a rare brain-eating amoeba during a family trip to the beach in early July.

A week after 13-year-old Caleb Ziegelbauer and his family visited Port Charlotte Beach July first, the teen experienced headaches and hallucinations.

Doctors later determined the symptoms were the result of an amoeba in his brain that had entered his body through his nose.

Port Charlotte Beach is bordered by Alligator Bay and Peace River. According to the CDC, Naegleria fowleri is found in warm freshwater, like lakes and rivers, and not  in salt water, like the ocean.  The amoeba is not found in drinking water.

“It destroys brain cells, I mean that’s really what it does,” said Dr. Todd Husty, an emergency medical specialist in Seminole County. “You can’t get this from drinking water, OK?  You can get other things from drinking bad water, but you’re not gonna get this from drinking water. This is water up your nose.”

According to the CDC, infection by the single-celled organism is so rare that is affects no more than three people in the U.S. each year.

However, the infection is usually fatal unless the disease is caught early.  Authorities suggest swimmers wear a nose clip while swimming in fresh water to prevent an infection.

The boy’s family says his brain inflammation has worsened since he arrived to the hospital but as of Saturday, he was still breathing on his own.