A Florida teen is fighting to stay alive after, doctors say, a rare brain-eating amoeba got in through his nose and infected his brain.
Caleb Ziegelbauer’s family told CBS News their 13-year-old son was at Port Charlotte Beach Park on July 1, where they believe he came in contact with the organism. Five days later Caleb was taken to the hospital—where he has remained since—feeling ill and experiencing hallucinations.
Doctors believe Ziegelbauer was infected by a rare brain-eating amoeba that likely entered his nose in the water. Health professionals say this is something 97 percent of people never recover from.
The Ziegelbauers are maintaining hope that their son will make a full recovery. “We try not to look at the numbers too much because there are miracles that happen every day and I think we’re going to see another one that happens here,” Caleb’s aunt Lesley Cornelisen said.
This isn’t the first lethal amoeba that has appeared this summer in U.S. waters. An Iowa beach was forced to close after it was discovered that a swimmer had been infected by such a parasite.
“Testing to confirm the presence of Naegleria fowleri in Lake of Three Fires is being conducted in conjunction with the CDC and could take several days to complete,” health officials wrote in a press release. “The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services is working closely with the Department of Natural Resources to share information about this rare infection and will provide additional updates as test results become available.”
According to Iowa’s department of public health, only 154 known cases of people being infected by the parasite have been identified in the United States since 1962.