Missouri resident dies after contracting rare brain-eating amoeba

A Missouri resident who was infected with a rare, brain-eating amoeba, possibly while swimming in an Iowa lake, has died, health officials said.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported on July 7 that it had a confirmed case of Naegleria fowleri, a rare but often fatal infection.

The resident may have been exposed to the amoeba – commonly found in warm fresh waters like lakes and rivers – while swimming at Lake of the Three Fires in Taylor County, Iowa, health officials said.

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services announced July 8 that the beach was temporarily closed to swimming as a “precautionary response to a confirmed Naegleria fowleri infection in a Missouri resident with potential exposure. recent while swimming at the beach”.

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services said it was conducting testing in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the presence of Naegleria fowleri in the lake.

The Missouri patient was being treated in an intensive care unit for primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a life-threatening brain infection caused by the amoeba, health officials said.

The patient has since died from the infection, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said.

“Although the occurrence of Naegleria fowleri infection is extremely rare, once infected it is usually fatal,” health department spokeswoman Lisa Cox said in a statement to ABC News on Saturday. “Because these cases are so incredibly rare and out of respect for the family, we do not intend to release any additional patient information that could lead to the identification of the individual.”

Of 154 known cases of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis reported in the United States from 1962 to 2021, only four people survived, according to the CDC.

The infection was Missouri’s first case of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis since 1987. No other suspected cases are being investigated in the state, the health department said.

“These situations are extremely rare in the United States and in Missouri in particular, but it’s important for people to know that infection is a possibility so they can seek timely medical attention if associated symptoms present themselves.” , said Dr. George Turabelidze, of Missouri. state epidemiologist, said in a statement.

People can become infected with Naegleria fowleri when water containing the amoeba enters the body through the nose. It can then travel to their brains and destroy brain tissue.

Symptoms of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis include severe headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, and seizures.

People can try to reduce their risk of becoming infected with Naegleria fowleri by limiting the amount of water that gets into their noses when in bodies of warm fresh water and by avoiding water recreation in water mild warm during periods of high water temperature.

From 2012 to 2021, 31 infections have been reported in the United States, with most people becoming infected through recreational water, according to the CDC.

In a recent high-profile case, a 3-year-old boy died of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis in September 2021 after contracting Naegleria fowleri at a Texas wading pool. City officials later discovered that there had been gaps in water quality testing at several parks.

Naegleria fowleri infections occur primarily during the summer months and in southern states, but can occur in more northern states, the CDC said.

“Recreational water users should assume that Naegleria fowleri occurs in warm freshwaters across the United States,” the CDC said while noting that the infection remains rare.

Experts warn that climate change can contribute to life-threatening risks for swimmers, as waterborne pathogens like Naegleria fowleri can thrive and multiply faster in increasingly warm waters.

ABC News

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