Beach in Iowa closed after Missourian confirmed brain-eating amoeba

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A rare brain infection has forced Iowa officials to close Taylor County Beach.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said the temporary closure is a precautionary response to a confirmed Naegleria fowleri infection in a Missouri resident who recently potentially became infected while swimming in a pool. beach at Lake of Three Lights State Park.

Testing to confirm the presence of the “brain-eating amoeba” is being done in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and could take several days.

The department wrote that it is working closely with the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services and will share updates as test results come in.

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There are no additional suspicious cases. under investigation in Iowa.

Lake of Three Lights State Park in Taylor County, Iowa

Lake of Three Lights State Park in Taylor County, Iowa
(Iowa Department of Natural Resources)

In a statement, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said the Missouri patient is currently being treated for primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

It states that the source of the patient’s exposure is being investigated and both local and out-of-state activity is being considered.

The only other case identified in a Missouri resident occurred in 1987, and no other cases of suspected PAM are considered there.

“These situations are extremely rare in the United States and especially in Missouri, but it is important for people to know that an infection is possible so that they can seek medical attention in a timely manner if they have appropriate symptoms,” the doctor said. This is stated in a statement by Missouri epidemiologist George Turabelidze.

Naegleria fowleri (commonly called "brain-eating amoeba" or "brain-eating amoeba"), is a free-living microscopic amoeba*, (a single-celled living organism).  This can cause a rare** and devastating brain infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

Naegleria fowleri (commonly referred to as “brain-eating amoeba” or “brain-eating amoeba”) is a free-living microscopic amoeba* (single-celled living organism). This can cause a rare** and devastating brain infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC))

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The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said on Facebook Friday that public health experts strongly believe the lake is the likely source and that additional public water sources in Missouri are being tested.

Missourians are being warned to be careful when swimming and diving in warm fresh water and take into account presence of Naegleria fowleria in those conditions.

Since 1962, only 154 known cases have been identified in the US.

PAM is not contagious, but can be life-threatening.

Lake of Three Lights State Park in southwestern Iowa

Lake of Three Lights State Park in southwestern Iowa
(Iowa Department of Natural Resources)

Naegleria fowleri, a free-living, microscopic, single-celled living organism that causes PAM, is commonly found in lakes, rivers, hot springs, and soil.

It usually infects humans when contaminated water enters the nose and the amoeba enters the brain.

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In very rare cases, infection can also occur when contaminated water from other sources enters the nose, but a person cannot become infected by swallowing contaminated water.

Symptoms of infection include severe headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, seizures, anxiety, and hallucinations.