Texas teen contracts rare brain-eating amoeba infection

A Texas teenager is fighting for his life after contracting a rare brain-eating disease from swimming in a lake about 70 miles north of Houston, his parents have told a local broadcaster.

The 14-year-old, a junior Olympian and honour student, appears to have contracted the disease when he went swimming on Aug. 13 with his track team, his father Mike Riley told Houston broadcaster KTRK on Tuesday.

"You wouldn't think that you would go to a doctor's office and they'd tell you that your son has got a couple of days to live," Riley said in an exclusive interview.

The disease is caused by exposure to a single-celled organism known as Naegleria fowleri, often referred to as the brain-eating amoeba.

It is commonly found in warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers and hot springs, as well as soil. It usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Contracting the brain disease is rare, it said.

The organism is most commonly encountered in the southern United States during the summer, when temperatures are highest, the CDC said. Of 133 people known to have been infected with it in the United States since 1962, only three have survived, the CDC said.

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