LABELLE, Fla. (August 13, 2013)--A 12-year-old boy in southwest Florida is fighting a rare infection that is attacking his brain.
Zachary Reyna contracted Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba that causes deadly brain infections, while knee boarding with some friends on Aug. 3 in a ditch near his house in LaBelle, Fla., family members said.
He’s now in the intensive care unit of Miami Children's Hospital.
The single-celled organism is commonly found in freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers.
The illness is extremely rare.
About 120 cases have been reported in the U.S. since the amoeba was identified in the early 1960s, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Victims typically are exposed to the bug while swimming or doing water sports in warm ponds or lakes.