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Suspected encephalitis case in Florida

  |   Aug. 12, 2011 at 12:47 PM
ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Officials say they're awaiting test results that could confirm whether a 16-year-old Florida girl in critical condition has contracted amoebic encephalitis.

The girl from Mims who had gone swimming in a lake near the Brevard-Volusia county line was rushed to a local hospital after experiencing headache and fever, Florida Today reported Friday.

If amoebic encephalitis is confirmed, health officials said, a health alert could be issued.

Swimming in lakes or ponds, especially during warm weather, can expose swimmers to tiny parasites known as Naegleria that can get into the nose and infect the lining of the brain, officials said.

"They live there and when someone dives in the water, it can disturb them and cause them to attack," Dr. Heidar G. Heshmati, director of the Brevard County Health Department, said of the potentially fatal disease.

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