A vacation to the beach with the family is meant to be enjoyable, and it frequently is. Summertime is the season when many families visit the beach. Many families who reside close to a beach might go there whenever the weather is pleasant.

Sadly, a beach vacation can occasionally end in disaster, and we’re not talking about shark bites or drowning. There are occasionally risks that are entirely invisible.

On July 1, 2022, Caleb Ziegelbauer, a 13-year-old Florida boy, visited Port Charlotte Beach with his family. That day, everything appeared to be in order, but tragically, something happened at the beach that could have been catastrophic.

Caleb’s aunts, Elizabeth Ziegelbaur and Katie Chiet, wrote in a GoFundMe for their nephew that five days after the beach trip, Caleb “began to complain about a headache. The fever started the following day. His parents took him to Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida in Ft. Myers on Saturday when he became confused.

Caleb was identified as having meningitis after being admitted to the hospital. It was discovered that Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba, had invaded his brain after entering his body through his nose.

Caleb started receiving therapy for the amoeba on July 10. He required a brief period of sedation and intubation, but his family reported that he has been breathing on his own for about a week at this point. Caleb’s family is unsure about Caleb’s prognosis, though.

Naegleria fowleri has infected 154 persons since 1962, and just 5 of the 154 individuals have survived. Caleb’s family is still holding out hope that he will be the sixth survivor.

Caleb’s aunt Elizabeth told NBC, “He’s just the kindest soul but he’s so strong. He’s so strong. Like the fighting on the outside, that’s what we’re doing. He is fighting his little heart out on the inside.”

Caleb’s aunt Katie added, “A lot of times people don’t get to the hospital quickly enough. We’re hoping that we did.” She continued, “It’s very lonely and isolating to walk this path because we don’t know where we are on any kind of timeline. It’s day 17 and Caleb is still breathing on his own. Are we in the clear? Are we on the path to healing? Are we waiting for something else to happen?”

Warm freshwater environments with inadequate chlorination, such as lakes, hot springs, rivers, and swimming pools, are where Naegleria fowleri can be found. Naegleria fowleri can be prevented by using nostril plugs or keeping your head above water, according to Mirna Chamorro, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health.