The federal Centres for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed it was caused by Naegleria fowleri, a single-celled organism known as the brain-eating amoeba.
Commonly found in warm freshwater, it does not cause illness if swallowed but can be fatal if forced up the nose while diving or water-skiing. A person can't be infected by drinking water, and the amoeba isn't found in salt water.
The amoeba can cause severe illness up to nine days after exposure. Symptoms include severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting and progress to stiff neck, seizures and coma.
The amoeba is known to have infected just 145 people in the US from 1962 to 2018.
- Limit the amount of water going up your nose. Hold your nose shut, use nose clips or keep your head above water when taking part in warm freshwater-related activities.
- Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.
- Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.