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Indiana man, Waylon Abel, suspected of dying from Naegleria infection- CDC to confirm

An autopsy report released last Friday on a  Loogootee, Indiana man says he died from the very rare and very deadly parasitic infection he apparently contracted while teaching his daughter to swim in July.

Waylon Abel, 30,  died on August 7, approximately three weeks after an outing with his family at West Boggs Lake, about an hour from Evansville.

According to an Associated Press report, Abel’s father, John said his son became infected with the “brain-eating amoeba”, Naegleria fowleri, while teaching his daughter to swim in the southwestern Indiana lake. 

The diesel mechanic died at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Evansville.

According to a Star-Tribune report Tuesday:

The autopsy report prompted the Daviess County Health Department to issue an advisory about PAM and Superintendent Michael Axsom of the Daviess-Martin Joint County Parks and Recreation Department to order the beach closed for the season Friday at West Boggs Lake, about 60 miles northeast of Evansville.

Samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation.

What is Naegleria fowleri and how does one get infected?

brain-eating amoeba

Naegleri fowleri Image/CDC

N. fowleri is protozoan parasite known as an amoeba which is found in warm, fresh water. People typically get it byswimming, jumping or playing in freshwater and get the water up their nose. From there the parasite travels to the brain and spinal cord and necrotizes, or basically eats brain tissue.

The disease is known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) and it has a very rapid progression. Typical symptoms may start after a day or two; headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. Later symptoms may include seizures, irrational behavior, hallucinations and finally coma and death. The course of the disease typically last about a week. Because the symptoms are very similar to bacterial meningitis, PAM may not even be considered in the diagnosis.

Fortunately, it’s a pretty rare disease, unfortunately, treatment is usually unsuccessful with only a handful of people surviving infection.

Related story: Neti pots, Naegleria and you

You should always assume there is some risk when swimming in freshwater. The location and number of amoeba present in a body of water varies from time to time. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recommends these four steps to reduce your risk of infection:

• Avoid water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater, hot springs, and thermally-polluted water such as water around power plants.
• Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.
• Hold the nose shut or use nose clips when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, or hot springs.
• Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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