LABELLE, Fla. - Health officials say a 12-year-old southwest Florida boy is fighting a rare infection that is attacking his brain.
Family members told media outlets that Zachary Reyna contracted Naegleria fowleri -- an amoeba that causes deadly brain infections -- while knee boarding with some friends in a ditch near his house in LaBelle on Aug. 3. He is being treated in the intensive care unit at Miami Children's Hospital.
The single-celled organism is commonly found in freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers.
The illness is extremely rare. About 120 U.S. cases have been reported since the amoeba was identified in the early 1960s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The victims typically are exposed to the bug while swimming or doing water sports in warm ponds or lakes.
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