Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis is a rare water borne disease that has affected fewer than 300 people. This disease is acquired by inhalation while swimming in fresh water (the water is breathed into the lungs). After infection of this fungus, the disease spreads to the brain and quickly destroys the brain stem. Death after exposure can occur in a week. The fatality rate (once exposed) is about 97%
The disease is only present in very warm water. Prevention can be accomplished by avoiding inhaling warm stagnant water; a nose clip is an effective barrier and should be considered.
Treatment can be accomplished by massive doses of anti-fungal drugs. Unfortunately, most victims do not realize they are infected until the disease has caused irreparable, often irreversible damage.
In the case of the death of Justin Baty, by the time he showed symptoms of illness, the disease had already taken its deadly course.