Brain-eating amoebas are spreading and that is just as bad as it sounds. It’s a dangerous epidemic — a fatal form of meningitis — that is currently occurring at increasing rates.

This summer, Fabrizio Stabile, a 29-year-old New Jersey man, died from this brain-eating amoeba, just one day after he was diagnosed, The man contracted the disease after swimming in a wave pool.

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A local expert warned Virginia swimmers that Naegleria fowleri, a potentially deadly micro-organism otherwise known as the “brain-eating amoeba,” was prevalent in most bodies of water in the region. The amoebas divide and multiply during hot summer months, and infections are higher during the months of July and August. “It doesn’t just happen when you are swimming,” said Dr. Francine Marciano-Cabral, with VCU’s Department of Microbiology and Biology. “It’s really when you fall off your skis or out of the boat.” Dr. Marciano-Cabral stressed that drinking lake or river water would not result in infection. The pathogen infects in humans when inhaled through the nose, and uses the brain as a food source. It then proceeds to feed on tissue, causing headache, nausea, fever and vomiting. Later symptoms include loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations.

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