DEAD AMOBIA ALERT: The Dallas Cowboys are asking fans to be on the lookout for brain-eating amoeba

The American football season is just around the corner, and yet this year, there’s a public health alert, one that could impact the thousands of people who will be heading to Cowboys games and the thousands more who will be catching game film and related games-watching in the weeks before the season opener.

After an alarming uptick in the number of infections among patients who were exposed to sick players during the 2017 season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning anyone who worked inside Cowboys facilities to be on the lookout for symptoms of the potentially deadly brain-eating amoeba.

The experts say they want everyone to be aware, because they anticipate the number of cases will likely rise.

The Associated Press reports that in the past six weeks alone, there have been at least five cases reported to the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department. Earlier this year, the AP reported that the CDC had put together a center for Dead Amoeba-Related Illnesses, or DEAFI, that helps the CDC coordinate with state and local health departments as well as professional sports teams as outbreaks of amoeba-related infections on the rise in sports facilities and along the U.S. coastline.

In October 2017, the Cowboys and many other professional teams had to fumigate all of their locker rooms and other contaminated areas after a high school soccer player died from amoeba after getting a head injury in a game at Cowboys stadium that was played in Dallas. That young man’s death was a prime example of why the CDC and teams thought that initial investigation into the amoeba could be a precursor to a much larger outbreak.

The CDC’s DEAFI has been working closely with teams and state health departments, even launching a device called an amoeba abundance detector that health officials can use to detect amoeba in water if they suspect a rising number of cases in a certain state or region.

Brian Flaherty, a spokesman for the Cowboys and the NFL, said the team has taken the CDC’s direction “very seriously.” Flaherty wrote in an email to The Washington Post that the team is a partner with the CDC on the DEAFI, which the team “supports all the time.”

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