Prevention & symptoms: 9 ways to protect yourself from the rare but deadly amoeba in Florida

A Florida resident died last month after health officials say they were infected with a rare and deadly amoeba.

Florida health officials said infection with Naegleria fowleri, a microscopic single-celled living amoeba, is rare and can sometimes cause an infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

Here are 9 things to know about the amoeba and how you can protect yourself:


1. You cannot be infected with Naegleria fowleri by drinking tap water. You can only get infected if water enters your nose.

2. When making sinus rinse solutions, use only distilled or sterile water. Tap water should be boiled for at least 1 minute and cooled before sinus rinsing.

Read: Brain-eating amoeba kills Florida resident, possibly due to sinus rinse with tap water

3. Do not allow water to go up your nose or sniff water into your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face, or swimming in small hard plastic/blow-up pools.

4. Do not jump into or put your head under bathing water (bathtubs, small hard plastic/blow-up pools). Instead, walk or lower yourself in.

Read: 9 things to know about brain-eating amoebas

5. Do not allow children to play unsupervised with hoses or sprinklers, as they may accidentally squirt water up their noses.

6. Avoid slip-n-slides or other activities where it is difficult to prevent water going up the nose.

7. Keep small hard plastic or blow-up pools clean by emptying, scrubbing, and allowing them to dry after each use.

8. Keep your swimming pool adequately disinfected before and during use.

9. If you experience any of these symptoms after swimming in warm lakes or rivers, or after a nasal water exposure such as a sinus rinse, seek medical assistance immediately:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Seizures
  • Loss of balance
  • Hallucinations

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.