South Florida teen survives brain-eating amoeba

Posted at 3:06 PM, Aug 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-23 18:31:17-04

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A South Florida boy has survived a brain-eating amoeba that kills most people who contract it.

Florida Hospital officials in Orlando said Tuesday that 16-year-old Sebastian DeLeon came to the hospital two weeks ago complaining of a headache and sensitivity to light.

Hospital staffers are trained to look for the amoeba since another boy died from it there previously.

Officials say the infection has a fatality rate of 97 percent. It's often contracted through the nose when swimming in freshwater.

Doctors lowered the teen's body temperature, induced a coma and gave him a drug that isn't readily available at most hospitals.

Luck was also on his side since the drug's manufacturer is based in Orlando, and a shipment got to the hospital quickly.

His mother Brunilda Gonzales calls his recovery a miracle. "They were so open with us with everything that was happening, and we are so thankful that God has given us the miracle through this medical team and this hospital for having our son back and having him full of life."

Health investigators believe DeLeon got the brain eating amoeba while swimming in a private lake in Broward County.

The CDC says the majority of victims are teenage boys who swim in fresh water with a temperature over 80 degrees.

DeLeon is expected to recover with therapy.