Man dies from ‘brain-eating’ amoeba


Fabrizio Stabile, 29, died from an amoeba found in fresh water that can infect people by swimming up through the nose and into the brain. The deadly infection is extremely rare, but the Centers for Disease Control is investigating samples of water from a Texas surf resort where Stabile had been just days before he died.

The story, covered on by Michael Nedelman, is a good example of a basic news brief with a summary lede and a limited number of solid facts. The topic definitely meets the criteria for a compelling news story, as it is a rare and tragic occurrence, and the author does a good job of capitalizing on this aspect of the story without having all the information.

The CDC is still in the process of investigations at the surf resort to see if the amoeba is present in the water. It is not confirmed that Stabile ingested the amoeba at the surf resort or somewhere else, but it is probable that it happened there.

With some missing pieces to the story, the author decides to delve into some past cases of the infection as caused by the amoeba, even referencing CDC data and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. However, most important is the statement he includes about swimming precautions, warning everyone to try and keep water out of their noses while swimming in freshwater by plugging their noses or using a nose clip when going under.

The only criticism I have for the story is that there are no personal quotations included in the article. Nedelman quotes the GoFundMe page that was created in honor of Stabile, and he has quotes from Brittany Behm, a CDC spokesperson, which were written in an email. It would have been better if Nedelman had spoken to Behm on the phone at least, because email quotes usually sound too formal.

Overall, the story is a solid news brief that gives the reader as much information as the author knows, while at the same time providing background research and precautionary advice to prevent the tragedy from repeating itself.