— A nine-year-old Virginia boy has died after swimming in water infected by a parasite known as the "brain-eating ameba," according to reports. It was the second such death this month.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Christian Alexander Strickland, 9, of Henrico County, became infected after he went to a fishing camp in the state.
The child died from meningitis Aug. 5 and Bonnie Strickland, his aunt, told the paper that Naegleria fowleri — or "brain-eating ameba" as it is sometimes known — was a suspected cause of the illness.
"The doctor described it to us as such a slight chance that they didn't even think it would be possible," Bonnie Strickland told the Times-Dispatch.
Health department officials told the paper they do not comment on individual cases. However, they confirmed a case of meningitis and an infection by the bug.
"Sadly, we have had a Naegleria infection in Virginia this summer," Dr. Keri Hall, state epidemiologist at the Virginia Department of Health, in a statement, according to the Times-Dispatch. "It's important that people be aware of … safe swimming messages."
Naegleria fowleri moves into the body through the nose and destroys brain tissue. It almost always causes meningitis, the paper said.
It is usually found warm, stagnant water in freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers. It can also be found in wells.
'I didn't get my miracle'
Earlier this month, Courtney Nash, 16, died as a result of a Naegleria fowleri infection in Florida after swimming in the St. John's River, ABC News reported.
NBC-affiliate WESH.com reported that she was diving off a dock with family at her grandmother's house when it is thought that she caught the disease.
Courtney's mother, Patricia Nash, said that shortly before her death, Courtney had decided to become an organ donor.
She told WESH that both lungs were transplanted and Courtney's liver and pancreas were "performing another miracle for someone else." Her kidneys were also being transplanted.
"I didn't get my miracle, but she has performed other miracles," Patricia Nash said, according to WESH. "If we can save other people's lives so they don't have to go through what I just went though, this could be a blessing in disguise."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ameba "enters the nasal passages ... and migrates to the olfactory nerves, eventually invading the brain."
"From 1995 to 2004, N. fowleri killed 23 persons in the United States, including 2 children in the Phoenix, Arizona, area in 2002, who had been exposed to well water but had not consumed it. There have been 6 documented deaths in 2007, all in warmer regions (Arizona, Texas, Florida)," according to the CDC.