A Maryland man contracted a brain-eating amoeba from jet-skiing on a river that left him temporarily paralyzed after the river.
Ryan Perry, 30, of Bel Air, was riding on the Susquehanna River on May 8 when he fell off, causing water to go up his nose.
Over the next few days, he began experiencing severe headaches, sensitivity to light and vomiting, until finally he wound up hospitalized at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center on May 11.
Eventually, he was transferred to another hospital where doctors determined an amoeba had infected him.
When Perry fell, he didn’t feel the parasite wash up into his nasal passageway along with the river water – until he started to experience symptoms of the organism eating away at his brain tissue.
Perry underwent three months of treatment, two months of rehab and is at last back home, but still re-learning to walk, though doctors say they believe he will make a full recovery.
Ryan Perry, 30, from Bel Air, Maryland, was hospitalized after he was infected with a brain-eating amoeba. Pictured: Perry in the hospital, courtesy of WJZ
Perry fell off his jet ski while riding on the Susquehanna River on May 8 and water went up his nose. He experienced three days of severe headaches and vomiting and went to the ER
After one week, Perry was transferred to another hospital, where he was placed in a medically-induced coma. Pictured: Perry before the accident, left, and after, right
‘I ended up going to the ER…because it was excruciating pain,’ Perry told WMAR of his headaches.
According to his sister, Perry began hallucinating, experiencing severe tremors and weakness of his lower extremities.
‘That’s the last memory I have,’ he said. ‘I was in Upper Chesapeake for about a week and I was transported to University of Maryland Downtown.’
Doctors placed him on ventilator and in a medically-induced coma as they tried to figure out the cause behind his illness.
‘I tested negative for everything they could test me for,’ Perry told WMAR.
‘Finally, what they determined is water went up my nose when I was jet skiing. [The amoeba] attacked my brain, traveled to my spinal cord and paralyzed me from the neck down.’
Doctors believe he may have become infected with naegleria fowleri, a parasite that can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain.
The single-celled organism is commonly found in warm freshwater, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs, as well as in soil.
Doctors determined an amoeba had entered Perry’s brain after water went up his nose when he fell into the water. Pictured: Perry in his wheelchair at home
Perry spent three months in the hospital and two months in rehabilitation. He is currently paralyzed but doctors say they expect he’ll make a full recovery. Pictured: Perry after the accident, left, and before on a jet ski, right
It usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain.
A person cannot become infected by swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria.
The infection, known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis, is very rare, with only about 35 cases reported in the US in the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to a GoFundMe page, Perry was transferred to the University of Maryland Orthopedic Institute on June 13 where he underwent intense physical and occupational therapy.
After three months in the hospital and another two months in rehabilitation, he was discharged home.
‘Initially it was we’re not sure if I’m ever going to be able to walk again,’ Perry told WMAR.
‘I had a neurology appointment at the University of Maryland and my neurologist told me she can’t believe the progress I’ve made and she thinks I will make if not a full recovery pretty close to it.’
Perry’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover his medical expenses. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than $4,000 has been raised out of a $50,000 goal.