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2-year-old boy in Nevada dies from brain-eating amoeba after natural hot spring visit

The brain-eating ameba lives in soil and warm fresh water and is almost always fatal.
/ Source: TODAY

A 2-year-old boy in Nevada died after being infected with Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba, officials and his mother confirmed.

In a July 20 press release, the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) reported that the Lincoln County toddler may have been exposed at Ash Springs, a natural hot spring located 100 miles north of Las Vegas.

The DPBH said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that Naegleria fowleri was the cause of the patient’s illness.

While the DPBH did not identify the child, Briana Bundy confirmed her son Woodrow Turner Bundy's death on her Facebook, sharing his obituary.

Woodrow, who was born on May 3, 2021, died on July 19, per the obituary, which also adds, “He loved animals, chickens, rabbits, cows, and especially elk... He loved life, and he loved his family with every ounce of his soul.”

The DPBH and Bundy did not immediately respond to TODAY.com’s request for comment.

Per the CDC, Naegleria fowleri is a single celled living organism that “lives in soil and warm fresh water such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs.” Commonly called the “brain-eating ameba,” it can cause a brain infection when water containing the ameba goes up the nose. “Only about three people in the United States get infected each year, but these infections are usually fatal,” the CDC states. It does not spread from person to person.

In October, another Nevada boy died from Naegleria fowleri after contracting the infection while at Lake Mead in Arizona. In August, a child, whose age wasn’t released, also died from a suspected case of the brain-eating amoeba while swimming in the Elkhorn River in Nebraska.

The CDC notes that because the amoeba occurs naturally, there is no way to eliminate it from fresh bodies of water. Symptoms of an infection include severe headache, nausea, vomiting and fever, which can lead to seizures, a stiff neck and coma that can lead to death.

The CDC recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Avoid jumping or diving into bodies of warm fresh water, especially during the summer.
  • Hold your nose shut, use nose clips, or keep your head above water when in bodies of warm fresh water.
  • Avoid putting your head under water in hot springs and other untreated geothermal waters.
  • Avoid digging in, or stirring up, the sediment in shallow, warm fresh water. The amebae are more likely to live in sediment at the bottom of lakes, ponds, and rivers.