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Brain-Eating Amoeba: Boy Contracts Disease
A 12-year-old southwest Florida boy is fighting a rare infection that is attacking his brain, health officials have said.
Family members said Zachary Reyna contracted the condition from Naegleria fowleri - an amoeba that causes deadly brain infections.
They said Zachary became infected while knee boarding with some friends in a water-filled ditch near his house in LaBelle.
He is being treated in the intensive care unit at Miami Children's Hospital.
Naegleria fowleri is a single-celled organism commonly found in freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The illness is extremely rare, with about 120 US cases reported since the amoeba was identified in the early 1960s, according to the CDC.
Last month, the Arkansas Department of Health confirmed a 12-year-old girl contracted the parasite while playing in a lake at Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock.
Victims are typically exposed to the bug while swimming or doing water sports in warm ponds or lakes.