An unidentified person in Arizona came down with an unknown illness that initially caused officials to suspect a diagnosis of Naegleria fowleri — commonly referred to as “brain-eating” amoeba — Phoenix’s Fox 10 reported.
However, state health officials have officially ruled out “brain-eating” amoeba after an unknown illness prompted health warnings of the deadly disease.
Officials with the Arizona Department of Health Services and Mohave County conducted a joint investigation and collected samples that were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On Wednesday, the CDC reported that the samples tested negative for Naegleria fowleri but did not disclose what caused the mystery illness.
According to the CDC, Naegleria fowleri is the only species of the Naegleria amoeba that infects humans and destroys brain tissue, eventually causing swelling and oftentimes leading to death.
The infection only has a 3% survival rate.
Symptoms include splitting headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. Death usually occurs within five days.
Only four people have survived out of the 157 known infected individuals in the U.S. from 1962 to 2022. Nearly half of the cases reported have occurred in Texas and Florida.
People can become infected when water containing the amoeba enters the human body through the nose, typically when people are swimming in lakes and rivers.
The single-celled microbes live in warm, fresh water and soil all around the world and thrive during the summer heat in July, August and September.
The CDC has suggested that climate change “may be a contributing factor” in Naegleria fowleri infections, and it is “possible” that they “will become more common.”
Although the deadly illness is rare, there has been a concerning uptick in cases in recent years — with five so far this year.
Last month, 16-month-old Michael Alexander Pollock III died after contracting the amoeba while playing at an Arkansas country club’s splash pad.
In August an unidentified man died in Austin, Texas, after developing the infection while swimming in Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, KXAN reported.
The month before that, star Georgia student Megan Ebenroth, 17, tragically died from an infection after swimming in a lake near her home in Dearing, McDuffie County. Also in July, 2-year-old Woodrow Bundy passed away from the infection, which his family believes infiltrated his body while playing in the water in Ash Springs, Nevada.
The first reported case and death from the infection this year — and the first ever recorded in winter — occurred in February when the CDC reported that an “adult patient reportedly performed nasal rinsing daily with unboiled tap water,” which they believed led to the person contracting the infection.
Most recently, officials in Nevada warned visitors that the deadly amoeba was found at Lake Meade in the hot springs below the Hoover Dam. Fortunately, no cases have been reported in the area.