A man has died after being attacked by a rare brain-eating amoeba while swimming.
The man, named by his lawyer as Eddie Gray, was infected while swimming at a water park in the US state of North Carolina earlier this month.
The lawyer said on behalf of Mr Gray’s family that his death had been “tragic and untimely”.
Mr Gray had visited the park as part of a church mission group and Rev Justin Lowe, senior pastor at Sedge Garden United Methodist Church, told the Charlotte Observer: “Our church family is deeply saddened by this loss and our prayers are with the family in this time of grief.”
The naegleria fowleri, a single-celled organism known as a brain-eating amoeba, is found in warm freshwater during the summer, health officials said.
It is harmless if swallowed but, if it enters the body through the nose, it travels to the brain and causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, which is usually fatal.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the amoeba can cause severe illness up to nine days after exposure.
Symptoms begin with headache, fever, nausea and vomiting.
The victim then experiences a stiff neck, seizures and goes into a coma.
Once a person shows symptoms, the fatality rate is over 97% and they usually die within five days, the CDC says.
Duane Holder, interim director of the Cumberland County Health Department told WRAL.com: “Swimming in and of itself is not so much of concern.
“Now, diving, jumping in from heights and maybe some of the forceful activity of submerging, those are situations I would make sure I had nose clips, nose plugs, or I’d pinch my nose if I knew I was going to be forcibly entering the water.”
This type of amoeba has infected 145 people in the US between 1962 and last year, with only four of them surviving.