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Ohio teen dies after contracting brain-eating amoeba during out-of-state trip

An Ohio teen died after contracting a brain-eating amoeba that thrives in warm freshwater while swimming on a trip in North Carolina.

The 18-year-old woman was on a church trip and is suspected to have contracted Naegleria Fowleri at a popular outdoor recreation center near Charlotte, NBC affiliate WCMH reported.

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.

The amoeba grows best at high temperatures up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit but can survive for brief periods of time in warmer conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the amoeba can also be found in river or lake sediment where temperatures are below the preferred threshold.

Cases of Naegleria fowleri are rare but deadly with a fatality rate at 97 percent. After initial symptoms such as headaches, vomiting and fever, the disease progresses rapidly and in most cases causes death within three to 18 days, the CDC said.

Between 2006 and 2015, 37 cases of Naegleria fowleri were reported.

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