Calif. Man Battles Deadly Illness Caused by Brain-Eating Amoeba

A California man is battling a rare and usually fatal parasite caused by a brain-eating amoeba found in soil, the Press Enterprise reports.

Matt Moore, a fire captain in Murrieta, Calif., became seriously ill in November and doctors were initially baffled as to what was causing his sickness, according to the report. Moore, 43, is on life-support in a critical-care unit in San Diego.

Late last month, doctors, using a brain biopsy, pinpointed the illness to parasitic meningoencephalitis, an extremely rare infection caused by the brain-eating amoeba Balamuthia mandrillaris, it is reported.

"This has been a total nightmare," Moore's wife Sherry Moore, 42, told the Press Enterprise. "He's very, very sick, and the prognosis just doesn't look good. At this point, we're all praying for a miracle. Our faith is what's getting us through."

About 150 cases of this disease have been reported worldwide since scientists discovered in the early 1990s that the amoeba can infect humans, according to the report.

Scientists believe the amoeba infects humans by entering through a wound or by being inhaled after it has become airborne, it is reported.

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