Killer Amoeba Prompts Nationwide Warning - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/4/07

Killer Amoeba Prompts Nationwide Warning

Colby Sawyer Colby Sawyer

A microscopic organism that attacks the brain, and can be deadly. An amoeba called naegleria fowleri, has caused the deaths of at least six people this year.

"There are many risks that have to do with water. This is one of them," Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the National Institutes of Health.

All of the victims had been swimming in warm lakes or under chlorinated pools in Florida, Texas and Arizona. Among them, 22-year-old Colby Sawyer, of Lubbock, who was infected while wakeboarding at Lake LBJ in August.

"He was just full of life and that was what he loved to do," said Tammy Sawyer, Colby's mother.

Sawyer began complaining of a headache after returning from the lake. Within a week he fell into a coma and died.

"My biggest fear, as a mom, is my child's going to drown at a lake," said Sawyer. "You never think that they're gonna contract some deadly disease that's gonna kill them in a matter of days."

Experts say infection is extremely rare, on average just over two cases per year. They're not sure what caused the spike this year. But they do know how the amoeba enters a swimmer's body through the nose where it then attacks the brain.

"Particularly when they dive. That's the real risk," said Dr. Fauci. "Because when the water has to get up through the nose and that's how it ultimately enters your system is through the nose."

Even though infection by the amoeba is rare, experts say if you are planning to swim in a lake, there are some steps you should take to protect yourself, like using nose clips to keep water out, and avoiding areas of very warm water.

  • Local News on KCBD.comNewsMore>>

  • At least 3 "tender age" shelters set up for child migrants

    At least 3 "tender age" shelters set up for child migrants

    Tuesday, June 19 2018 9:12 PM EDT2018-06-20 01:12:25 GMT
    Friday, June 22 2018 6:48 PM EDT2018-06-22 22:48:09 GMT
    Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

    Migrant babies and young children are being held in special "tender age" shelters after being taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

    Migrant babies and young children are being held in special "tender age" shelters after being taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

  • For immigrants, still no word on when they will be reunited

    For immigrants, still no word on when they will be reunited

    Friday, June 22 2018 6:06 AM EDT2018-06-22 10:06:01 GMT
    Friday, June 22 2018 6:46 PM EDT2018-06-22 22:46:21 GMT
    (AP Photo/David J. Phillip). Jesus Funes, 19-months, cries as his mother, Diva Funes, both immigrants from Honduras, holds him after being escorted back to Reynosa, Mexico, Thursday, June 21, 2018. The family, who was seeking asylum, said they were tol...(AP Photo/David J. Phillip). Jesus Funes, 19-months, cries as his mother, Diva Funes, both immigrants from Honduras, holds him after being escorted back to Reynosa, Mexico, Thursday, June 21, 2018. The family, who was seeking asylum, said they were tol...

    About 500 of the more than 2,300 children separated from their families at the border have been reunited since May, a senior Trump administration official says.

    About 500 of the more than 2,300 children separated from their families at the border have been reunited since May, a senior Trump administration official says.

  • US leaving UN's Human Rights Council, cites anti-Israel bias

    US leaving UN's Human Rights Council, cites anti-Israel bias

    Wednesday, June 20 2018 1:21 AM EDT2018-06-20 05:21:04 GMT
    Friday, June 22 2018 6:43 PM EDT2018-06-22 22:43:53 GMT
    (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File). FILE - In this Jan. 2, 2018, file photo, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to reporters at United Nations headquarters. Haley says the U.S. is withdrawing from UN Human Rights Council, cal...(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File). FILE - In this Jan. 2, 2018, file photo, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to reporters at United Nations headquarters. Haley says the U.S. is withdrawing from UN Human Rights Council, cal...

    The U.S. is leaving the U.N. Human Rights Council, which Ambassador Nikki Haley calls an organization "not worthy of its name."

    The U.S. is leaving the U.N. Human Rights Council, which Ambassador Nikki Haley calls an organization "not worthy of its name."

Powered by Frankly