Florida boy, 14, left paralyzed after catching brain-eating amoeba

A Florida teen cheated death after contracting a brain infection with a 97 percent death rate.

Fourteen-year-old Caleb Ziegelbaur spent nearly a year in hospital battling a brain-eating amoeba after contracting it while swimming on Port Charlotte beach last July.

Doctors believe he is infected with Naegleria fowleri, which is fatal in 97 percent of cases.

Only four of the 154 people who got the microscopic bug in the US between 1962 and 2021 have survived. Doctors believe it entered Caleb’s nose and infected his brain.

Caleb now walks a bit, but the damage to his brain means he has to communicate with facial expressions and has to use a wheelchair.

Caleb, pictured here with his mother Jesse, now walks a little, but the damage to his brain means he has to communicate with facial expressions and has to use a wheelchair

He contracted the disease after going swimming with his family at Port Charlotte Beach on July 1, 2022

He contracted the disease after going swimming with his family at Port Charlotte Beach on July 1, 2022

Caleb was swimming with his family at Port Charlotte Beach on July 1, 2022.

The public beach is located at an estuary where the fresh water of the Peace River meets the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico.

Just six days later, Caleb developed a headache and fever before developing a fever and complaining of hallucinations.

On July 9, he was rushed to the hospital and told his mother Jesse NBC that even during the hour-long car ride, his condition “deteriorated rapidly.”

He was in a coma at Golisano Children’s Hospital, where doctors monitored him 24 hours a day.

Doctors told his mother he had only four days to live. For eight months he battled the amoeba while barely conscious.

Speaking to NBC, Jesse said, “[The doctor] just came in and told us, you have four days with your son.

β€œWe were visiting and he [Caleb] said, “I just want to tell you these are the longest four days of my life.”

β€œHe did tell me he heard me talking to him and Caleb said if you can hear me come back. I promised that as soon as he runs, we want to do the 5K at Disney.

Precious time was wasted after doctors misdiagnosed meningitis, delaying treatment for the amoeba, which must be treated soon after infection to be successful, said his aunt, Katie Chiet, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). .

He returned from intensive rehab in March, which means he can now stand, smile and communicate, although his ability to speak has been affected.

Caleb is pictured here before he was infected by the brain-eating amoeba that doctors say should have taken his life after just a few days

Caleb is pictured here before he was infected by the brain-eating amoeba that doctors say should have taken his life after just a few days

Caleb returned from intensive rehab in March, meaning he can now stand, smile and communicate, although his speech is impaired

Caleb returned from intensive rehab in March, meaning he can now stand, smile and communicate, although his speech is impaired

1688692823 778 Florida boy 14 left paralyzed after catching brain eating amoeba

Port Charlotte Beach is where the freshwater Pearl River and the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico meet.  Naegleria fowleri can thrive there

Port Charlotte Beach is where the freshwater Pearl River and the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico meet. Naegleria fowleri can thrive there

An amoeba is a small single-celled animal found in warm fresh water such as lakes and rivers.

Generally, the amoeba enters through the nose and travels through the sinuses to the brain, where it causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis – a rare and usually fatal brain infection.

It spreads nerves to the brain, where it multiplies and destroys tissue.

In the early stages, patients initially experience headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, but days and weeks later they may also experience hallucinations and seizures.

Caleb’s doctor said she was “never happier when she was wrong” about his chances of survival, his mother recalls.

Generally, the amoeba enters through the nose and travels through the sinuses to the brain, where it causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis – a rare and usually fatal brain infection.

It spreads nerves to the brain, where it multiplies and destroys tissue.

In the early stages, patients initially experience headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, but days and weeks later they may also experience hallucinations and seizures.

A 2018 study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment found that Naegeleria fowleri can survive in the brackish waters of Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain, an estuary like Port Charlotte beach.

His family recently handed out boxes of nose plugs at the Freedom Swim across Charlotte Harbor on Tuesday.

Jesse has also argued that the death rate is even higher than 97 due to issues with the reporting process, saying the true death rate is close to 99 percent.

Caleb dreams of becoming an epidemiologist.

He said, “I went looking for the cure for Covid, but now I’m going to find the vaccine for Naegleria fowleri.”