Boy Battling Brain Eating Amoeba After Swimming In Florida

A teenaged Florida boy is hospitalized after becoming infected with a brain-eating amoeba north of Fort Meyers in Florida. Caleb Ziegelbauer, 13, was swimming with family during a vacation to Port Charlotte Beach Park on July 1, and everything seemed fine. Five days later, though, he began feeling extremely ill.

His symptoms included headaches, feeling disorientated, and having hallucinations. His parents quickly took him to a local children’s hospital soon after.

Doctors believe the amoeba entered through Caleb’s nose while swimming in local freshwater. Warm bodies of water like lakes and hot springs have been known to carry such infectious organisms.

The brain-eating amoeba, known as Naegleria fowleri, is an extremely rare encounter for humans

The CDC estimates about three cases annually per year in the U.S. Unfortunately, many of the cases do end up being fatal due to the nature of the brain damage.

Five documented recoveries in America are on the books, though, with the last being in 2016 thanks to a complex regiment of medications. The patient from 2016 was also a teenaged boy.

Caleb is now fighting for his life in the hospital, with dozens of supporters gathering outside of his room wearing his favorite color — yellow. They say they are there to pray for his recovery and offer their full support.

The boy’s aunt, Lesley Cornelisen, told WBBH/NBC 2 that they are trying “not to look at the numbers too much because there are miracles that happen every day,” she said. Katie Chiet, another of Ziegelbauer’s aunts, spoke similarly: “A lot of times people don’t get to the hospital quickly enough… we’re hoping that we did.”

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