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Virginia Health Officials Warning Swimmers Of Parasite

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Virginia health officials are warning people of a deadly parasite that could be living in Virginia's stagnant waters.
Thomas Cizauskas (
Virginia health officials are warning people of a deadly parasite that could be living in Virginia's stagnant waters.

Virginia's health department is warning swimmers to beware of a deadly parasite that lives in stagnant water. The warning comes after a child in Virginia died of a related infection.

Virginia state epidemiologist Dr. Keri Hall says autopsy reports show the water-borne amoeba nigleri caused a brain infection that killed the child earlier this month.

She declined to identify the victim, but the Associated Press says it was a 9-year-old boy in Henrico County, who fell ill after attending a fishing camp. A similar infection also killed a 16-year-old girl in Florida last week.

Hall says the best way to stay safe is to avoid warm, stagnant bodies of water.

"Nobody really knows why one person might get an infection when millions of other people who swim in similar bodies of water don't get the infection," Hall says. "But if one does want to swim in those types of bodies, people can either keep their head above water, or if they do go under water, hold their nose or use nose clips."

The victim in Virginia was the first in the state since 1969. Hall couldn't say what prompted the organism to appear after such a long time, but she says this summer's hot, dry weather has provided ideal conditions for the bacteria to grow.


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