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Texas Teen Dies After Contracting Brain-Eating Amoeba Linked to Warm Freshwater

A 14-year-old boy from Texas died Sunday after contracting a brain-eating amoeba that thrives in warm freshwater.

Michael Riley, from Houston, went swimming with his school track team at Sam Houston State Park in mid-August, his family said in a statement on a Facebook page. After suffering from meningitis-like symptoms, Riley was taken to the hospital where doctors later confirmed it was a case of Naegleria fowleri.

Commonly found in warm freshwater such as lakes, ponds and hot springs, humans are infected by the deadly organisms when water containing the amoeba travels through the nose and migrates to the brain, destroying the tissue.

High temperatures in the summer months elevate the risk of coming into contact with the brain-eating amoeba.

Most infections occur during July, August and September when there is prolonged heat and thus higher water temperatures and lower water levels.

Cases of Naegleria fowleri are rare but deadly. After initial symptoms such as headaches, vomiting and fever, the disease progresses rapidly and in most cases causes death within three to 18 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Riley's family said the amoeba likely entered his naval cavities as he jumped into the lake.

The family said the CDC flew an experimental drug to the Texas Children's Hospital from its Atlanta headquarters.

The young cross-country athlete was preparing to enter high school as a freshman this year.

Tips for Summer Swimmers From the CDC:

Hold your nose shut, use nose clips or keep your head above water in warm bodies of freshwater.

Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm bodies of freshwater.

Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.

Do not put your head under water in hot springs.