A warning against a deadly brain-eating parasite has been issued by the Florida Department of Health after a 12-year-old boy was left fighting for his life in Miami.
Zachary Reyna became the second child in several weeks to suffer from an attack by the parasite known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis; the first victim was a 12-year-old girl, Kali Harding from Arkansas.
Reyna reportedly came in contact with the parasite while kneeboarding with friends in a water-filled ditch by his house on Aug. 3.
After the young boy slept through the entire next day, his concerned parents took him to hospital where he was diagnosed with the disease and underwent brain surgery.
Rayna is currently listed in very serious condition and is being treated in the intensive care unit at the Miami Children’s Hospital.
Florida officials are alerting the public to be “wary when swimming, jumping or diving in freshwater” because high water temperatures and low water-levels are providing the perfect conditions for the amoeba to breed. Exposure to infected waters could cause serious health issues.
Between 2001 and 2010 there were only 32 reported cases of the amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, with most appearing in the Southeast.
Only three people in the last 50 years have survived attacks by the deadly parasite.