When you think of perishing in a body of water, most of us probably imagine that it's the ocean that kills us, and why not? It is a large, dangerous place full of horrible creatures beyond our worst nightmares. With that in mind, it makes sense to prefer swimming in a lake over the deep blue sea. Of course a lake or river is going to be less dangerous than the ocean…right?
Well, that's where your wrong, oh so very wrong. I'll use the story of 18-year-old Lauren Seitz to prove my point.
Earlier this month, Seitz went on a trip with her church group to the U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) in North Carolina. By all accounts the trip went well, except that a little more than a week later Seitz died from a rare brain infection caused by the amoeba naegleria fowleri.
— Morning News USA (@MorningNewsUSA) June 24, 2016
The single celled naegleria fowleri lives in warm freshwater and is typically harmless to humans. It can even be drunk by humans and have no effect. However, if it is forced up the nose, the amoeba can then make it's way into the brain and kill you.
Naegleria fowleri happy to see you and eat your brain pic.twitter.com/W3s8MHEFXo
— Klint Teston (@klint_teston) June 25, 2016
Despite intense treatment of the water at the park, the amoeba's DNA was present when officials tested the water this week. They believe that Seitz contracted the infection when her raft flipped over one time during the trip.
— ICARE (@SunielPathak) June 23, 2016
Those with a brain infection from the amoeba typically show symptoms around nine days after exposure. Symptoms include headache, fever, vomiting, confusion, seizures, loss of balance, and hallucinations. Within five days of the first symptoms, 97% of those infected die.
— Molly Grantham WBTV (@MollyGrantham) June 22, 2016
(via The Guardian)
While that is a terrifying statistic, the rates of naegleria fowleri infection in the U.S. are actually very low. According to the CDC, is the last 53 years, only 138 infections have been recorded. To put that number in perspective, in the last decade it's estimated that there are about 10 drowning deaths every day in the U.S.