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Naegleria fowleri killed a14-years-old star athlete

Michael John Riley Jr. was just few days away from starting his freshman year of high school. On August 13 he was swimming with his cross-country team at Sam Houston State Park. That was the moment when Michael encountered the Naegleria fowleri amoeba.  After a couple of days, the teen’s bad headache turned into a total loss of brain function. Sunday he passed away.

Dr. Umair Shah says that Naeglera fowleri are rare, but they can be found in waters, especially in those that are warm and still.


What is naegleria fowleri?

This single-celled organism can cause brain infection called amebic meningoencephalitis, or just PAM. This organism is typically found in warm fresh water such as hot springs, lakes and rivers.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health said: “These disease-causing organisms are naturally present in most lakes, ponds, and rivers but multiply rapidly in very warm and stagnant water”.

How to you get naegleria fowleri?


People will get infected by swimming or diving into infected waters. The amoeba will enter the nose and travels to the brain. In this extremely rare cases, people get infected form pools that are not adequately chlorinated.

It is impossible to get infected by drinking water contaminated with amoeba and this infections are not contagious.

In the past 53 years only 133 cases have been documented. Most of these cases happened in Florida, California, Texas, Arkansas and Arizona.

This infection is fatal very often. Of those 133 cases, only three people survived.

In order to prevent it, the Oklahoma health department said that people shouldn’t swim in stagnant water, water that has a foul odor or water that is cloudy and green.

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