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[DIGEST: CBS, Weather]

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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