Teen Dies from Rare Brain-Eating Amoeba
The infection is almost always fatal
On June 19, an 18-year-old teen from Ohio died after contracting an infection caused by a rare brain-eating amoeba.
Local, state, and national officials are investigating the death, which occurred after the young woman, Lauren Seitz, visited the U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Though Seitz lives in Ohio, she was visiting some southern states on a youth mission music tour with her church, Church of the Messiah United Methodist Church. The church is located in Westerville, Ohio.
As of Wednesday, the center remained open under normal business operations. Officials with the CDC were there Wednesday testing water, according to CDC Dr. Jennifer Cope.
In a statement, USNWC officials said they met with Mecklenburg County Health Department Tuesday after learning of the death and released additional chlorine into the water “in an abundance of caution.”
USNWC said it conducts water quality tests every week.
The statement goes on to say:
“Based on these tests and all available information, at all times, the USNWC has been in compliance with all required water quality standards and meets the requirements of all regulatory standards and authorities.” 
Officials confirmed that Seitz died from Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis, known as PAM, a severe brain infection caused by an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, shortly after she returned from the trip. The infection causes the covering around the brain and spinal cord to swell.
Naegleria fowleri is a naturally occurring organism that lives in freshwater throughout the United States. People can’t become infected by ingesting the organism; it must be inhaled through the nose, where it then travels to the brain.
In a statement, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said:
“The deceased’s only known underwater exposure was believed to be when riding in a raft with several others that overturned at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte.”
Only 0-8 infections from parasitic amoebas occur in the U.S. each year, and nearly all are fatal, according to the CDC. The CDC advises people to take steps to avoid getting water up their nose when out in fresh water lakes or ponds, such as keeping their head above water, using nose clips, or pinching their nose shut when going underwater. 
Of 133 people known to have been infected since 1962, only 3 have survived. 
Though it is extremely rare, people can become infected if they use contaminated tap water when they use sinus rinsing devices, such as neti pots. The CDC advises people to either filter or boil water before using such devices.
Symptoms of PAM can take up to 9 days to appear, and generally mirror bacterial meningitis, starting with fever, chills, headache, and a stiff neck. 
 ABC News
 USA Today
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.