Drug may be new hope for amoeba patients

Treatment gives promise to Central Fla. mom whose daughter died

ORLANDO, Fla. – Doctors are calling it a breakthrough--two 12-year-olds with an amoebic infection have been showing signs of recovery after undergoing a treatment.

The treatment is giving new promise, especially for a Brevard County mother who lost her daughter in 2011.

PJ Nash-Ryder's daughter, Courtney Nash, died in August of 2011 after she got infected by a brain-attacking amoeba. Nash was swimming in the St. John's River and died 5 days later.

At the time, only two people in North America ever survived the infection. This summer, doctors say a treatment has helped two 12-year-olds.

 "It's still hard to this day but I do what I can I don't want anyone going through what I did," PJ Nash told Local 6.

For the past two years, Nash has dedicated her life to doing that.

"She [Courtney] had severe headaches, had thrown up 20 times. She got very delirious, couldn't concentrate, couldn't focus," Nash said.

Gloomy statistics would tell you she had no chance of surviving because at that time only one person in the United States ever had.

A new treatment is now giving new promise. A 12-year-old boy being treated in Miami and an Arkansas girl have already shown signs of defeating the amoeba after undergoing the cocktail that includes body cooling, an antifungal drug, and an experimental one used for breast cancer called Miltefosine.

The patient in Arkansas is even walking and talking, a breakthrough considering the amoeba attacks the brain.

"At least it has killed the amoeba, it has given them brain damage, but at least we can stop it and the brain can learn new things so maybe it can help these children," said Nash.

That is all Nash says she can hope for, that her story can inspire others and save someone else.

Prevention is the only sure thing, be sure to use noseplugs or keep your head above water when swimming in warm lakes, rivers, and ponds.

Miltefosine, the investigated drug, has been used since 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The CDC says the drug comes from Europe and the time it takes to import miltefosine from abroad has "made timely treatment of fulminant Naegleria infections difficult", however, it is now available from the CDC.

For more information go to the CDC website.