This past Tuesday, officials working with the Florida Department of Health confirmed that a 12-year-old boy had been infected with a so-called brain-eating amoeba.
The parasite is known to the scientific community as Naegleria fowleri, Gawker reports. It works its way into a person's organism through the nose, and sooner or later reaches the brain.
Once there, is destroys both neurons and synapses, specialists explain. The parasite is extremely aggressive, and 99% of the people who contract it die in a matter of days.
12-year-old Zachary Reyna's parents believe the boy contracted the brain-eating amoeba while swimming and playing in a canal in LaBelle, Florida.
Local health officials are yet to confirm their suspicions, USA Today informs us.
According to the same source, the boy went swimming nearly two weeks ago, on August 3. Not long after, he started feeling ill.
At that time, everybody assumed that he had fallen sick with the flu.
When Zachary's took a turn for the worse, his parents decided to take him to the hospital. The boy is presently looked after by doctors at Miami Children's Hospital.
The latter have thus far refused to reveal any information concerning the severity of the boy's condition. His parents, on the other hand, posted the following message on Facebook:
“Zac is still fighting. Doctors are saying things have not changed. We are still strong on our end because we know God will step in when He is ready. Keep praying.”
“I know everything will turnout alright. This is God's plan and I just have to be patient. Thank you all for your support and please continue to pray for my family,” they added.
Although Naegleria fowleri is a naturally occurring pathogen, meaning that it is a fairly common presence in freshwater lakes and rivers, it seldom affects people.
Health officials say that, between the years 2003 and 2012, merely 31 cases were reported in the US.
As reported, it was only a few days ago when a girl in Arkansas ended up in the hospital after contracting this parasite.
Recent news on the topic says that her condition has somewhat improved.