Facebook.com/CBSNews - Twitter.com/people
Source: Facebook.com/CBSNews - Twitter.com/people

Florida Boy, 13, Fights for Life after Being Infected by Brain-Eating Amoeba on a Family Vacation

Jul 28, 2022
09:10 P.M.
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One week after having fun at a pool in Florida, 13-year-old Caleb Ziegelbauer started to experience excruciating headaches and hallucinations that landed him in the emergency room. Doctors had to act fast once they realized what had infected him.


13-year-old Caleb Ziegelbauer was swimming at Port Charlotte Beach, Florida, with his family on July 1, 2022.

Everything was normal until one week later. Ziegelbauer started complaining about a headache that escalated when he experienced hallucinations and immense fever.


The day at the beach quickly turned into a medical emergency that terrified Ziegelbauer's parents. The family had to now be on a mission to find a hospital nearby that could help him.

When Ziegelbauer got to the doctor in the emergency room, it was confirmed he had symptoms of meningitis. Caleb's aunt Katie Chiet said test results showed a rare but severe infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).



Ziegelbauer has been in the hospital for weeks, and his family still hopes he makes it through. The good news is that the young man has been strong and is now breathing on his own.

Although the chances of surviving PAM are alarmingly slim, there are children who have fallen victim to it and made a full recovery.

Ziegelbauer's aunt, on the other hand, is worried but patiently waiting to get a green light from the doctors. Chiet vulnerably expressed the difficulty of the situation and said it was a lonely waiting process, but she remained optimistic.


Ziegelbauer has made positive strides. Meanwhile, his family has been updating reporters about his condition, and his aunt is crossing her fingers that the 13-year-old gets to be one of the survivors that beat the odds. She said:

"We're hoping against hope that Caleb becomes survivor #6 but we have a long road ahead of us."



As the Ziegelbauer family hopes for a full recovery for their son, there has also been immense support. A GoFundMe campaign was started to help the family with medical expenses as they remain positive in this heartbreaking situation. So far, it has raised more than $48,000.


Friends and family have stood outside the hospital to wait for the boy's complete recovery, and social media users have also shared their sympathies.

Ziegelbauer is on the journey of beating an infection that has taken many lives, and people around the world are keeping him in their thoughts and prayers. Here are some of the good wishes Zeigelbauer has received:

"So sad, praying he'll have a complete recovery."

- (@ Mary Kretchmer Carroll) 27 July 2022

"How absolutely horrifying for their family, knowing the low survivability of this to be crushing them."

-(@ Kimberly Cluney-Glass) 27 July 2022



-(@Carol Miller) 27 July 2022

Some of the comments on a Facebook post about Caleb Ziegelbauer's battle. | Source: Facebook/CBS News

Some of the comments on a Facebook post about Caleb Ziegelbauer's battle. | Source: Facebook/CBS News

"Prayers for him to heal. God bless him and help him heal completely."

-(@Andrea Garbin) 27 July 2022


"Praying for God's healing touch."

- (@Kathy Verdecchia) 27 July 2022


Although the chances of surviving PAM are alarmingly slim, there are children who have fallen victim to it and made a full recovery.

CNN reported that between 1962 and 2015, there were about 138 cases of this infection. However, there are patients who have beat the odds, including an 8-year-old boy from Texas who also got infected while swimming.


The Texas boy made a full recovery, even though he suffered brain damage due to a delay in combating the symptoms, thus leading to a setback in medical treatment.

Another survivor was 12-year-old Kali Hardig. The journey to recovery was a difficult one as Hardig spent seven weeks in the hospital. But she walked out fully healed and fit enough to get back into school.

Ziegelbauer remains in the thoughts and prayers of so many across the country. We hope that he beats the odds, survives this dangerous infection, and gets to enjoy life outdoors again.

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