LITTLE ROCK — State health officials today announced that they still have found no evidence linking the rise in water bugs and an increase in deadly flesh and brain eating amoebas in the area, but do not 100% rule out the possibility.
Central Arkansas has experienced a large increase in water bugs, sometimes known as American cockroaches in areas outside of midtown Little Rock, due to mild, moist conditions during last two summers. The number of reported cases of flesh and brain eating amoebas, which are often deadly, has also increased during that time period leading many to speculate that the water bugs are the source.
“There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the two are related. Sure, there are some suspicious correlations, but no reason to panic,” Arkansas public health director Dr. Nate Smith tells us. “It is technically possible for water bugs to be the carriers for brain eating amoebas, as well as any number of other highly deadly diseases, but we have no proof that this is the case.”
Fear of the correlation spread after area resident Rachel Sams made a post on Facebook about killing her first water bug by herself in her Hillcrest home. Shortly after Sams was rushed to UAMS when large portions of the leg she used to step on the water bug began to deteriorate.
UAMS officials say they have seen a 800% spike since June in the number of self diagnosed cases of deadly amoeba infections. Most cases turn out to be mild headaches or dry skin. A few however are the real thing, so patients are encouraged to consult with WebMD at the first sign of an infection, then immediately go to the nearest emergency room.
“We hope to find the cause of the rise in brain eating amoebas,” Smith says. “Until then we recommend anyone concerned to use caution. Avoid water, dark places, loud noises, people, outdoors, and being indoors without a biohazard suit. It really is the only way to stay safe in a time like this.”