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Teenager Lives Through Normally Fatal Brain Eating Amoeba Infection

Jaclyn Hughes

When you see headings in the news that read “brain eating amoeba”, like most, you probably think you’re watching some type of fictitious television show. The sad truth is that this is exactly what is sweeping the nation as a massive health scare if you, or your children swim, or use various bodies of water for recreational use such as jet skiing or paddle boarding.

Sebastian DeLeon was just like every other normal teenager until he was in the news as the fourth American to actually live through his encounter with a brain eating amoeba. The fact that the 16 year old is still alive to talk about his experience is nothing short of a miracle according to doctors. Experts believe Sebastian contracted the illness from being swimming in unsanitary waters somewhere in southern Florida on private property.

NPR reported that the infection caused by this “Naegleria Fowleri” has a grim survival rate, as within just the last 50 years some 138 people were infected with it, and only a mere 3 survived. That is, until DeLeon became the 5th person to outlive the horrible illness. It’s not a common illness of course, but it is gaining popularity as something for everyone that loves the outdoors to take very seriously.

The other two cases that have become well known in 2016, were one person in Florida, and the other in North Carolina that have both been infected with the same brain eating amoebas. What, if anything, can be administered to actually save these patients once they have been infected? There is a drug that was designed to work for a specific type of cancer called Impavido, that has been utilized in amoeba cases. In Sebastian’s situation, the hospital treating him contacted the drug company, and the CEO of the company had his son drive the medication quickly to the Florida hospital to hopefully save this teenager’s life. That it certainly did. An interesting tidbit about the wonder drug, is that the company who makes it doesn’t charge hospitals for stocking up on it. Instead, they only charge the medical facility once the drug has been used. It is without question an expensive medication, as one treatment of Impavido will run over forty thousand dollars. Small price to pay to save your child’s life, and hopefully insurance will cover most of the cost of that treatment for him.

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