Iowa Lake Closes After Visitor Infected With Life-Threatening, Brain-Eating Amoeba

A Missouri resident is in the intensive care unit with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, after swimming in Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County, Iowa

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The beach at Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County, Iowa, has temporarily closed after a swimmer visiting from another state was infected with a life-threatening, brain-eating amoeba.

The rare brain infection caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri was reported in the visitor from Missouri, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced in a news release. The patient was ill with primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, and was being treated in the intensive care unit, Missouri health officials said Thursday.

“It is not contagious, but can be life threatening,” the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said in a statement linked in a tweet. "Testing is underway to confirm the presence of Naegleria fowleri in Lake of Three Fires in conjunction with the Iowa Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The process could take several days." 

Naegleria fowleri is a "free-living microscopic ameba," commonly found in warm freshwater — such as lakes and rivers — or, more rarely, in inadequately chlorinated swimming pools or heated and contaminated tap water, according to the CDC.

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