A South Carolina resident has contracted an infection from the brain-eating amoeba, naegleria fowleri, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The state epidemiologist Linda Bell said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed through lab tests the individual was exposed to the infectious amoeba. The exposure is thought to have occurred on July 24, when the individual was swimming near Martin’s Landing on the Edisto River in Charleston County, DHEC said.
The infection the amoeba causes, primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, has about a 97 percent fatality rate. In early June, miltefosine – a drug that, when used with other medications, has worked as a potential treatment – was stocked in a U.S. hospital for the first time.
Tuesday night, Profounda – Miltefosine’s manufacturer – sent the drug by courier to the South Carolina hospital where the patient is being treated. Profounda’s Chief Executive Officer Todd MacLaughlan said it was en route from Orlando, where the company is based, at 10:30 p.m. and believes it arrived around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The organism occurs naturally in contaminated fresh bodies of water and is present in many lakes, rivers and streams, but the infection it causes is rare. The amoeba is not harmful if swallowed, but can become fatal when forced up the nose.
Naegleria fowleri is the same amoeba that took Lauren Seitz’s life after she most likely contracted it at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte earlier this summer.
The individual’s information and health conditions have not been released.
This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.
Cole: 704-358-5357; @kianamcole