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Houston boy, 14, dies after battle with brain amoeba

HOUSTON - A 14-year-old boy has passed away after coming into contact with a rare amoeba while swimming in a lake north of Houston.

Relatives said in a Facebook post late Saturday evening that Michael Riley Jr. succumbed to the ravages of the brain-eating amoeba.

"The tests tonight produced undesirable results which were coupled with the inability to function without support and proper blood flow to the brain," their statement read.

Riley developed a headache and fever, and later became disoriented, after swimming with friends Aug. 13.

In online postings, Michael's family said he had Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis. The disease usually occurs when the Naegleria fowleri amoeba enters the body through the nose and attacks cells in the brain. The infection causes the brain to swell.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says from 2005 to 2014 the amoeba infected 35 people in the U.S. All but two cases were fatal. A swimmer died of the disease in Oklahoma earlier this month.

While Riley's condition was rare, the amoeba typically lives in warm freshwater and can be found in lakes in the Houston area. It cannot be contracted by drinking contaminated water, only by inhaling it up the nose. To reduce the risk, experts advise keeping your head above water or using nose plugs when you swim in lakes or rivers.

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