A warning has been issued for a rare brain-eating parasite which has left a 12-year-old boy fighting for his life in Miami.
The deadly amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, entered through the nose into Zachary Reyna's nose, while he was kneeboarding in a water-filled ditch next to his house on Aug. 3.
The low levels of the ditch, along with the warm temperatures, became the perfect breeding ground for the parasite. Officials have now issued a warning to be "wary when swimming, jumping or driving in freshwater."
After contracting the parasite, the usually energetic and active boy reportedly slept through the next day. Sleeping that much was unusual for the boy, so his worried parents took him to hospital to get him checked, when they discovered that he had primary amoebic meningoencephalitis.
The boy required brain surgery and is currently in a very serious condition at the ICU at a children's hospital in Miami.
The parasite has a deadly track record, with only 3 known persons to have survived. The latest survivor is Kali Hardig, also 12, who was given an anti-amoeba drug to treat her illness. She was only the third person in the last 50 years to survive. Reyna has also been given the same anti-amoeba drug.
Reyna's parents hope that their son could become the fourth survivor. "He's strong," said his brother, Brandon Villarreal. "He's really, really strong."
There were only 32 known cases of the parasite infection between 2001 to 2010, and is believed to be very rare. "This infection is one of the most severe infections that we know of," Dr. Dirk Haselow of the Arkansas Department of Health said to WMC-TV. "Ninety-nine percent of people who get it die."
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued some tips on lowering the risk of the deadly infection.
Swimmers should avoid swimming in freshwater when the temperature is high and water level is low and use nose clips to prevent any water going up the nose.