Brain-eating amoebas have killed three people so far this summer. The victims include a 9-year-old Virginia boy and a 16-year-old Florida girl; both apparently became infected while swimming in warm, stagnant water. That makes the typical summer health warnings about swimmer's ear and sunburn seem mundane by comparison.
The bug crawls into the brain through the nose and causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a disease of the central nervous system that is almost always fatal. To find out just how much of a risk is posed by the local swimming hole, Shots dialed up William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert who heads the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical School. Here's an edited version of the conversation.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/08 ... c=fb&cc=fp