Imagine a time when you were 14 years old. Maybe you were concerned with homework or members of the opposite sex, but you surely weren’t worrying about life-threatening diseases and how they can attack without warning. Unfortunately for one Texas teen, he’s in the fight of his life against one.

Michael Riley Jr., a 14-year-old track star who has qualified for the Junior Olympics, went for a swim in the lake at Sam Houston State Park on Aug. 13. A week later, Michael woke up and complained of a headache. A few days later, the headache got worse and Michael began feeling neck pain and disorientation, so his parents took him to Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH), West Campus, where doctors ran a series of tests that helped diagnose the teen with the brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri. This then caused a rare disease called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis.

According to the GoFundMe page created for Michael, the doctors concluded that he contracted the amoeba by jumping in the lake. Michael was transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital of Houston and was placed in a medically induced coma. The GoFundMe page says he is being treated with an experimental drug provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

N. fowleri may sound like something from the pages of a science fiction novel, but we’ve already seen two well-publicized cases of it this year. The amoeba gets the brain-eating adjective attached to it because it does eat part of its victim’s brain. It brings along with it a high 90 percent rate of fatality.

It can enter the body through the nose, so when someone like Michael jumps into a body of water and water goes up the nose, the amoeba has its way inside. Once there, it travels through the nasal passage and into the brain, where it begins to multiply. The victim might feel fine for a while, but eventually symptoms like the ones Michael experienced begin to set in.

As for the primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, which comes along after the amoeba sets in, there has been only one documented case of survival since 1962. One of the reasons for the high fatality rate is that the disease doesn’t have clear-cut symptoms, making it hard to diagnose before it’s too late.

As of Wednesday, the GoFundMe page has raised $10,350 out of the goal of $15,000 to help Michael’s family through the incident.