Invisible Killer

Friday, July 16, 2010 - 9:19am

10-year-old dies from a rare form of meningitis caused by amoeba after swimming in lake.

An invisible killer is being blamed in the death of a 10-year-old South Carolina girl.

Liza Hollingsworth of Mount Pleasant died from a rare form of meningitis caused by amoebae.

Doctors believe the microscopic organisms entered Hollingsworth's system while she was swimming in a lake.

Amoebic meningitis is extremely rare.

According to the Centers for Disease Control there have only been 33 cases in the entire country over the past decade.

Nearly every case is fatal because there is no proven treatment.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says that Hollingsworth's death should not cause public fear of swimming in lakes or rivers.

DHEC says amoebae are prevalent in most southern lakes and rivers and on very rare occasions cause sickness by entering through the nose.

Symptoms include headaches and nausea.

There is no way to test or predict when amoebae will cause harm by entering a persons' nose so the only prevention is to avoid fresh water during the hot months of the year or wear a nose plug.

Most organisms which cause water born illnesses are in sediment in shallow water.

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