Rare brain eating amoeba exists in South Carolina

COLUMBIA (WACH) - A deadly parasite doctors call the brain eating amoeba can be found in freshwater lakes throughout South Carolina.

The amoeba has killed 32 people nationwide since 2001 including a child in Charleston last year. It lives in warm, stagnant water, and enters the the body through the nose.

Death can occur 1 to 10 days after exposure.

"It's possible in any freshwater when warm temperatures are present in Southern states," said DHEC Spokesman Adam Myrick. "In a pool it's not because there are disinfectants are taking care of it there."

Myrick says although the amoeba is extremely rare, wearing a nose clip or holding your nose while diving into the water can reduce your risk of contracting parasite.