Florida Middleschooler Brain-Dead From Cerebral Parasite
Zachary Reyna of LaBelle, Florida is now brain-dead according to a Facebook post by his family. As of Saturday afternoon, 12-year-old seventh-grader was on life support at Miami Children's Hospital pending the removal of his vital organs for donation.
Zachary is believed to have contracted the fatal amoeba known colloquially as the "brain-eating amoeba" and formally as Naegleria fowleri by kneeboarding with his buddies in a watery ditch in close proximity to his house. As it turns out, shallow water that reaches high temperatures is the perfect environment for this amoeba to grow in.
It wasn't long after he played in those waters that doctors diagnosed him with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis. In a desperate attempt to save his life, he was administered an experimental drug which saved a 12-year-old Arkansas girl from the amoeba earlier this month. She became only the third person out of 129 known cases in the past fifty years to have survived. Sadly for Zachary, the same drug proved ineffective for him.
Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis is a very difficult way to die. Symptoms start as early as 24 hours from infection and include nausea, stiff neck, vomiting and headaches. They may take as long as seven days to manifest. Afterwards, the patient exhibits seizures, loss of balance, and hallucinations with death roughly twelve days later.
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[caption id="attachment_68792" align="aligncenter" width="308"] 12-year-old Zachary Reyna of LaBelle, Florida is also fighting the infection after contracting the amoeba knee boarding in a ditch earlier this month
[/caption]Brain Eating Warning
A rare brain eating amoeba has been found in various pools of freshwater across the United States.
The deadly amoeba, known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, breeds in warm, stagnant waters. The disease has an extremely high mortality rate; approximately 99%. Of the diagnosed case so far, there have been only two survivors. Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis is an extremely rare; in the past 50 years, there have only been approximately 130 diagnosed cases of the disease in the United States.
There are currently two confirmed cases of the disease in the United States. 12 year old Zachary Reyna from Florida contracted the disease while kneeboarding with friends in a ditch near his house, reports the Daily Mail.
"He's fighting and he's strong, he's really really strong," said brother Brandon Villarreal.
On Facebook, his brother says Zachary had surgery to remove pressure from his brain. At a vigil Tuesday - cheers of support from Zachary's baseball teammates.
The other case was diagnosed in another 12 year old, Kali Hardig, located in Arkansas. Kali contracted the deadly bacteria while swimming at a waterpark on July 19th.
Hardig, who's out of a coma and now in fair condition at Arkansas Children's Hospital, is only one of three American's to survive the deadly bacteria in the past 50 years.
According to ABC News, doctors cooled her body down to try to reduce the swelling. They also won clearance to treat her with a breast-cancer drug, Heulitt said.
"She wound up being on the ventilator for over two weeks," Heulitt said. But she's since made incredible progress.
Kali can now breathe on her own. Though she can't talk yet, she's able to write her name and respond to doctors and her family. And tests show no signs of the parasite in her system.
"We've went from being told that our little girl wouldn't survive this amoeba to now they're saying that Kali is going to be the third survivor and going to get to go home," Traci Hardig said.
Hardig's mother posted a message about Reyna on the Prayers For Kali Facebook page:
Kali and I are asking for you all to add Zachary to your prayers. Zachary is a 12 year old boy in FL battle the same thing Kali has. We want prayers 4 # 4 !!!! You got this!!!! Kali's Krew loves you and is supporting you all the way!! Slow and steady wins the race!
"This infection is one of the most severe infections that we know of," Dr. Dirk Haselow of the Arkansas Department of Health told CNN affiliate WMC-TV about Kali's case. "Ninety-nine percent of people who get it die."
Sufferers frequently experience few initial symptoms, lowering the prognosis rate for those affected. Kali's condition was diagnosed relatively early when she was brought into the emergency room with a fever shortly after her trip to the water park. Zachary remains in the hospital continuing to battle against the deadly disease.
For those planning on swimming in fresh waters during the hot summer months, it is recommended to use a nose plug and keep one's head above water.
According to ABC News, there have been nearly 130 cases reported in the United States since 1962. Before Kali, there was only one known U.S. survivor, plus another nonfatal case documented in Mexico.
The brain-eating warning story is developing.
[caption id="attachment_68797" align="aligncenter" width="800"] aegleria fowleri /n???l??ri?/ is a free-living excavate form of protist typically found in warm bodies of fresh water, such as ponds, lakes, rivers, and hot springs. It is also found in soil, near warm-water discharges of industrial plants, and unchlorinated or poorly chlorinated swimming pools in an amoeboid or temporary flagellate stage. There is no evidence of this organism living in salt water. It is an amoeba belonging to the groups Percolozoa or Heterolobosea.[/caption]
On The Web:
Doctors optimistic 12-year-old girl will be THIRD survivor of deadly brain-eating amoeba she contracted at a water park
Brain-eating warning after Naegleria fowleri amoeba affects 2nd child
Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis