A 19-year-old college student died of a brain-eating infection contracted while swimming in Cecil County waters, yet her death isn’t the first case reported in recent months.
Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba often found in warm, freshwater, such as lakes, rivers or hot springs. The amoeba enters the human body through the nose—say, if a swimmer goes under water or jumps into a lake—and then travels to the brain where it eats away at brain tissue.
Though rare, the young college student isn’t the first swimmer to fall victim to the infection recently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says from that 2006 to 2015, 37 cases were reported in the U.S. with infections more likely to occur during the summer months. The fatality rate is 97 percent, according to the CDC.
Here are a few recent cases reported in the U.S.:
- Sebastian DeLeon, 16, contracted the infection while swimming in a private lake in Orlando, Fla. He was rushed to the hospital with a headache, and administered a lifesaving drug called miltefosine. DeLeon was one of the lucky ones. Only three other people have survived the illness out of 138 known cases reported in the U.S. between 1962 and 2015.
- Kali Hardig is also counted as a survivor. Hardig was 12 years old when she fell ill after swimming in an Arkansas water park back in 2013. She was treated with miltefosine and made it back to school in the fall.
- An 11-year-old South Carolina girl died from the infection after swimming in the Edisto River this July, according to South Carolina heath officials.
- Lauren Seitz, an 18-year-old from Westerville, Ohio also succumbed to her illness. CNN reports that Seitz flipped over in a raft at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C. during a church trip. Water samples tested positive for the amoeba and the water park was forced to shut down for several weeks.
- Also this summer, a teen identified as Hudson Adams was believed to be infected while working as a summer camp lifeguard at a Texas lake. The CDC says victims can die within five days of infection.