A person believed to have been infected by a brain-eating amoeba after swimming at a beach in Iowa has died, according to health officials.
On Friday, officials with the Missouri department of Health and Senior Services announced that the swimmer had died after a July 7 infection of Naegleria fowlri, a rare and often deadly infection.
The swimmer, originally from Missouri, is believed to have been exposed to the amoeba while swimming at the Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County, Iowa, officials said. The rare amoeba is most frequently found in warm freshwater, like lakes and rivers.
The patient was being treated in an intensive care unit for a life-threatening infection of the brain known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis, officials said.
The death of the unnamed patient was first reported by .
‘Because these cases are so incredibly rare and out of respect for the family, we do not intend to release additional information about the patient which could lead to the person’s identification,’ Lisa Cox, the communications director for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, told the Register in a statement.
The agency first learned of the infection on July 6 from the CDC. The swimmer had likely been exposed to the amoeba while swimming in the Iowa lake during the last two weeks of June, Cox told the newspaper.
It’s unclear what day the patient died from the infection.
On July 8 the beach was temporarily closed to swimmers as a ‘precautionary response to a confirmed infection of Naegleria fowleri in a Missouri resident with recent potential exposure while swimming at the beach.’
During that time, Iowa’s Department of Health and Human Services conducted testing with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to confirm the presence of Naegleria fowleri in the water.
Of the 154 known cases of primary amebic meningoencephalitis reported in the US since 1962, only four people have survived, according to the CDC.
People can be infected when water containing the amoeba enters the body through their nose. The amoeba then can travel to the brain and destroy the brain tissue.
Symptoms of primary amebic meningoencephalitis include severe headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck and seizures. These types of infection mainly occur during summer months and in southern US states, according to the CDC.
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