Beach in Iowa closed after rare case of “brain eating amoeba” detected

Department of Natural Resources/Iowa State Parks
·2 min read

A beach in Iowa is temporarily closed after the presence of what is commonly referred to as “brain-eating amoeba” was detected.

KWWL, an NBC affiliate in Waterloo, Iowa, reported that state health officials said the beach at Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County was closed for swimming, effective as of Friday, July 8.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the temporary closure was prompted by a confirmed infection of Naegleria fowleri in a Missouri resident who was potentially exposed at the lake.

The department is working jointly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test the lake and confirm the presence of Naegleria fowleri. The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services is also working with the Department of Natural Resources to share additional information about the infection as well as updates when test results are available.

TODAY reached out to the IDPH for additional information, but did not hear back at the time of publication.

The CDC reports that this single-cell organism is commonly found in warm freshwater including lakes, rivers, hot springs, and soil. It can cause a rare infection in the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis if it enters the nose. However, health officials in Iowa say that PAM is extremely rare.

In the United States, there have been only 154 known cases since 1962. At this time, there are no other suspected cases of PAM that are being investigated in Iowa or Missouri.

Individuals who experience fever, nausea, severe headaches, stiff neck, or vomiting after swimming in a warm body of water are encouraged to contact their health provider.

To reduce the risk of infection of Naegleria fowleri, it’s recommended that individuals avoid getting water up their nose by following actions including:

  • Holding your nose shut, using nose clips, or keeping your head above water when you are engaging in activities in warm freshwater environments

  • Avoid any water-related activities in warm freshwater when the water is at a high temperature

  • Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment when in shallow, warm freshwater.

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