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Cecil Whig - - OPINION -

To the tragic story of a New York teen’s life cut short by the most im­prob­a­ble of cul­prits: a mi­cro­scopic amoeba. Health of­fi­cials in her home state con­firmed that Kerry A. Stouten­burgh, 19, from Brook­lyn, N.Y., died last week of Nae­g­le­ria fow­leri amoeba, which is is com­monly found in warm fresh­wa­ter lakes, rivers and hot springs. Her un­cle told the Whig that he be­lieves she con­tracted the par­a­site while swim­ming in Conowingo last month. The amoeba, a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring or­gan­ism, can be deadly when it is forcibly in­tro­duced up the nose, where it can lead to dam­age ef­fects on the brain. Her un­cle said she had been swim­ming with fam­ily and friends in lo­cal wa­ters, even jump­ing from an aban­doned rail­road bridge into a creek — the likely cul­prit. The death from the “brain-eat­ing amoeba” is ex­ceed­ingly rare, how­ever. So much so that Stouten­burgh is be­lieved to be the first per­son in New York or Mary­land to die from it and fewer than 200 peo­ple have died from Nae­g­le­ri­asis in the past 50 years na­tion­wide. We can only shake our heads at the cir­cum­stances and grieve with Stouten­burgh’s fam­ily.

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