Westerville teen dies after contracting brain-eating amoeba (UPDATE)

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A recent graduate of Westerville South has died after contracting a very rare brain-eating amoeba.

According to Mitzi Kline with Franklin County Public Health, the 18-year-old died from Meningoencephalitis. The amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, is commonly referred to as a brain eating amoeba.

A letter sent out by Westerville South High School interim principal Mark White identified the teen as 18-year-old Lauren Seitz.

Kline said the teen died in Ohio, but was exposed to the amoeba at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. The amoeba is found in freshwater and has an incubation period of 1-7 days. It is not contagious.

The primary source is bodies of freshwater, such as lakes and rivers. You cannot be infected by drinking contaminated water. It infects people when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose.

There have been 37 reported infections in the U.S. in the ten years from 2006 – 2015.

Bereavement support will be available at the Westerville South beginning Wednesday at noon.

The Westerville South band will be hosting a memorial and prayer vigil Tuesday night in the band room for members.

Meningoencephalitis (Source: CDC)

Naegleria fowleri (commonly referred to as the "brain-eating amoeba" or "brain-eating ameba"), is a free-living microscopic ameba*, (single-celled living organism). It can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The ameba is commonly found in warm freshwater (e.g. lakes, rivers, and hot springs) and soil. Naegleria fowleri usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the ameba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM, which is usually fatal. Infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. In very rare instances, Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water) enters the nose. You cannot get infected from swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria. More Info: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/