Take Two: Nevada boy dies from brain-eating amoeba, Bubba Wallace suspended after altercation at Vegas race

The Take 2 series features brief weekly updates on the state or nation’s relevant news for the community.

Hannah Gonzalez

The Take 2 series features brief weekly updates on the state or nation’s relevant news for the community.

Nevada boy dies from brain-eating amoeba: On Wednesday Oct. 19, a Nevada resident died from a brain-eating amoeba; doctors speculate it was caused by a visit to Lake Mead. The rare amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, lives in warm bodies of water such as lakes, rivers and hot springs. It infects people by entering the body through the nose and traveling to the brain, at which point it causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis. The 18-year-old began developing symptoms a week after visiting the Arizona side of the lake on Sept.  30. Symptoms usually include headache, fever and nausea, then eventually seizures and coma. Experts say a person typically has about five days to live following the time that symptoms appear. While swallowing amoeba cannot kill you, the killer parasite goes into your nose where it starts to feast on brain tissue. This would be the first reported case of a brain-eating amoeba at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. For the state of Nevada, this is the second death caused by the brain-eating parasite, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Beaches at Lake Mead have continued to stay open. It is rare for humans to be infected by the brain eating amoeba. Once infected, the total death rate for the parasite is 97%. 

Significance: “My condolences go out to the family of this young man,” said Dr. Fermin Leguen, the district health officer for Southern Nevada, in a statement. “While I want to reassure the public that this type of infection is an extremely rare occurrence, I know this brings no comfort to his family and friends at this time.” The young man’s death comes after two separate cases that were reported in 2022. In July, a Missouri resident was hospitalized with a Naegleria fowleri infection after swimming in the Lake of Three Fires State Park in southeastern Iowa.  Over 75% of Naegleria fowleri infections have been in men, but they can also affect young adults and children. About one month later, a child died from a suspected infection with the organism after swimming in Nebraska’s Elkhorn River. The incident was the first of its kind for the state, according to health officials. Naegleria fowleri is more often found in freshwater bodies in southern states. No warnings have gone up for the affected lakes. In the U.S., between zero and five cases were diagnosed annually from 2012 to 2021. 

Bubba Wallace suspended after altercation at Vegas race: Bubba Wallace was suspended from the next Cup Series Championship event. This comes days after an incident with Kyle Larson in Las Vegas Sunday. After Larson’s car forced Wallace’s car into the wall, Wallace hit the rear of Larson’s car, forcing Larson’s car to spin out. After the crash, Wallace got in Larson’s face and pushed him. Bubba Wallace responded with an apology stating,  “My behavior does not align with core values that are shared by 23XI Racing and our partners, who have played a crucial role in my incredible journey to the top of this great sport, you live and learn, and I intend to learn from this.” The 2022 season has been harsh on both Wallace and Larson after Larson was eliminated from NASCAR’s playoff round. Wallace had one win, four top fives and six top-10 finishes during the season. 

Significance: Compared to Matt Kenseth at Martinsville in the fall of 2015, Bubba Wallace received less retribution for his actions last weekend at Las Vegas. In 2015, backmarker Kenseth was suspended after intentionally wrecking Joey Logano in the Goody’s 500. Kenseth was put on probation for six months and suspended from upcoming races. His on-track retaliation caused NASCAR’s broadcast partners—some of them former drivers—to immediately decried the incident. The words “intentional,” “blatant,” “dangerous” and “unacceptable” were heard from both the radio and television crews. It’s rare that NASCAR’s “partners” publicly express such opinions. Wallace has been accused of intentionally trying to wreck Larson. On Tuesday, NASCAR COO Steve O’Donnell said the penalty was specific to “what took place on the race track.” “When we look at how that incident occurred, in our minds it was really a dangerous act,” O’Donnell said. “We thought it was intentional and put other competitors at risk. As we look at the sport and where we are, we thought that definitely crossed the line.”  The next event is 23XI’s No. 45 Toyota next weekend at Homestead, Wallace is expected to be replaced by John Hunter Nemechek.