Amoeba Kills Swimmer : Oklahoman swimming in lake dies after being infected by a brain-eating amoeba

Amoeba Kills Swimmer : Oklahoman swimming in lake dies after being infected by a brain-eating amoeba

Health officials are warning lake goers about a deadly amoeba that killed an Oklahoma swimmer this week.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the victim was a young adult who swam all over the lake. The person went swimming early last week and died Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.

The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department confirmed the person was camping at the Ski Jump campground.

PAM is an extremely rare and usually deadly disease caused by infection with a single-celled organism (amoeba), Naegleria fowleri.

Naegleria fowleri is commonly referred to as the, “brain-eating amoeba.”

These disease-causing organisms are naturally present in most lakes, ponds, and rivers but multiply rapidly in very warm and stagnant water.

Persons may be exposed to Naegleria fowleri amoeba when they dive or submerge their head in contaminated water. The amoeba then travels up the nose to the brain where it destroys the brain tissue.

Symptoms of PAM initially include: high fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Later, symptoms may include stiff neck, seizures, hallucinations, and coma. PAM cannot be spread from person-to-person. Most occurrences of PAM occur in the southern states.

Since 1998, seven cases due to PAM have occurred among Oklahomans.

Avoid forcing water up the nose when swimming, playing, jumping, diving, or dunking your head into bodies of fresh water, such as lakes and ponds. This is especially important for water that is near shore, shallow, and warm.

Hold your nose or use nose plugs when jumping or diving into water.
Never swim in stagnant water, water that is cloudy and green, water that has mats of algae, or water that has a foul odor.

Do not swim in areas posted as “No Swimming.”

Avoid swallowing water from rivers, lakes, streams, or stock ponds.

Swimming in properly maintained pools prevents PAM because chlorine rapidly kills the amoeba.