Travis Fedschun


There have only been 37 reported cases with exposure in Florida since 1962

A person in Florida has been infected with a rare and usually deadly brain-eating amoeba, according to health officials.

The Florida Department of Health announced Friday that one patient in Hillsborough County has been infected with Naegleria fowleri, a water-borne,microscopic single-celled amoeba that attacks the brain.

“Infections can happen when contaminated water enters the body through the nose,” the health department said.

The amoeba can cause a rare infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) which destroys brain tissue and is usually fatal.

Once the amoeba enters the nose through contaminated water, health officials say it then travels to the brain where it causes PAM.

“Infections usually occur when temperatures increase for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels,” health officials stated.

The peak season for this amoeba is July, August and September, where it can be found in many warm freshwater lakes, ponds, canals and rivers in the United States. It is more common in southern states.

Health officials did not say where in Hillsborough County the infection was reported or any details about the patient, FOX13 reported.

According to health officials, there have only been 37 reported cases with exposure in Florida since 1962.

Health officials cautioned those who swim and dive frequently in Florida’s lakes, rivers and ponds during warm temperatures about the possible presence of Naegleria fowleri. Adverse health effects can be prevented by avoiding nasal contact with waters since the amoeba enters through nasal passages.

Naegleria fowleri, the brain-eating amoeba that causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Here are the following recommendations from health officials:

  • Avoid water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater, hot springs and thermally polluted water such as water around power plants.
  • Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.
  • Hold the nose shut or use nose clips when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers or hot springs.
  • Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.
  • Exposure to the amoeba may also occur when using neti pots to rinse one’s sinuses of cold/allergy-related congestion or conducting religious rituals with tap water. Use only boiled and cooled, distilled or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.

Anyone who experiences headaches, fever, nausea, disorientation, vomiting, stiff neck, seizures, loss of balance or hallucinations after swimming in warm water should contact their health care provider immediately.

“It is essential to seek medical attention right away, as the disease progresses rapidly after the start of symptoms,” the health department said.

Author: Travis Fedschun

Source: Fox News: Rare brain-eating amoeba infection confirmed in Florida, health officials say

Three veterans commit suicide at VA treatment centers

Three veterans take their own lives within a 5-day span.

Three U.S. military veterans took their lives within 5 days of each other at VA facilities in 2 states earlier this month, prompting a call for action by lawmakers.

The first death was reported on April 5, when the body of 29-year-old Gary Pressley was discovered inside a vehicle in the parking lot of Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, Georgia.

Pressley had a gunshot wound in his chest and was pronounced dead at 8:45 p.m., Laurens County Coroner Richard Stanley told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Pressley’s family said he was medically discharged in 2012 after a bad car accident and struggling with mental health care, according to the newspaper.

His mother, Machelle Wilson, told WMAZ-TV that Pressley’s sister called the VA to tell them her brother was threatening suicide from their parking lot just moments before he killed himself

“He told his girlfriend he was going to do it in the parking lot, so they could find his body, so somebody can pay attention to what’s happening, so other vets do not have to go through this,” she told the television station.

The following day in Decatur, Ga., 68-year-old Olen Hancock of Alpharetta killed himself outside the Atlanta VA Medical Center. Hancock had been seen pacing the lobby of the building before going outside and shooting himself, WSB-TV reported.

Officials did not disclose what branch of the military that Hancock served, but Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, called the deaths “unacceptable and devastating.”

“While we have taken a number of steps to address and prevent veteran suicide, this weekend’s tragic deaths clearly indicate that we must do better,” Isakson said in a statement.

The third suicide was reported April 9 in Austin, Texas when an unidentified veteran shot himself in front of hundreds of people in a waiting room of a VA Clinic. The incident happened shortly after noon, and prompted the building to be shut down, KXAN reported.

“All of a sudden, over the intercom, they have this statement about everyone must clear the building including staff, so it was a little surprising,” Ken Walker told the television station.

Currently, about 20 veterans die by suicide every day — a rate 1.5 times higher than those who have not served in the military. In February, the Washington Post reported that 19 suicides were reported on VA campuses from October 2017 to November 2018, 7 of them in parking lots.

Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, told Stars and Stripes there have been more than 260 suicide attempts on VA property, 240 of which were interrupted and prevented.

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, said Wednesday the deaths were part of a “national crisis” and that a full committee hearing is scheduled for later this month to discuss the issue.

“Every new instance of veteran suicide showcases a barrier to access, but with three incidents on VA property in just five days, and six this year alone, it’s critical we do more to stop this epidemic,” Takano said in a statement. “All Americans have a role to play in reducing veteran suicide, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is going to make this issue a top priority.”

There are resources available to veterans considering hurting themselves. To talk to someone, veterans in crisis are urged to contact the VA crisis line at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text 838-255 for help and also talk in a confidential online chat session.

Author: Travis Fedschun

Source: Foxnews: 3 veterans die of suicide over 5 days at VA facilities in 2 states

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