A North Carolina man has died from a rare brain-eating amoeba after swimming in a manmade lake at a water park, officials said Wednesday.
The state Department of Health and Human Resources said in a news release that the infection was caused by the amoeba naturally present in warm freshwater during the summer. The unnamed person became sick after swimming in Fantasy Lake Water Park in Hope Mills in Cumberland County on July 12.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed it was caused by Naegleria fowleri, a single-celled organism known as the brain-eating amoeba. It can be fatal if forced up the nose but does not cause illness if swallowed. Symptoms typically begin with severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting and progress to stiff neck, seizures and coma.
The amoeba can cause severe illness up to nine days after exposure.
Health officials say the amoeba is known to have infected just 145 people in the U.S. from 1962 through 2018. Five of those cases occurred in North Carolina.
Attorney Justin Plummer of Greensboro identified the victim as Eddie Gray of Guilford County. He said in an email that he represents Gray’s wife and estate.
The amoeba also killed an Ohio college student who went underwater at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte in 2016. The family of 18-year-old Lauren Seitz of Westerville, Ohio, settled a wrongful-death complaint in April. Seitz died 11 days after being thrown overboard and going underwater at the center during a 2016 church trip.