Iowa beach closed after man infected with ‘brain-eating’ amoeba
TAYLOR COUNTY, Iowa (KCCI) – A beach in Iowa was shut down Thursday after it was suspected of being contaminated with a “brain-eating” amoeba.
The closing comes after an infection was confirmed in a person who recently swam in the Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County.
The amoeba can cause extremely rare and life-threatening brain infections.
The beach at the Lake of Three Fires State Park is usually busy with summer vacationers, but now it is totally empty.
Abby Melvin, a camper, says she and her friends never thought their summer reunion would be the scene of an invisible health threat.
“Weird that that thing can just get inside you and do that,” she said.
Melvin said the lake looks fine from a distance. However, state health experts say a tiny amoeba could be hiding in the water.
The amoeba can get into your nose and eat your brain.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources Supervisor Michelle Reinig says getting sick with it “is obviously rare.”
The DNR has now shut down the beach at Lake of Three Fires state park.
A resident of Missouri is in intensive care after he swam in the lake last week.
The amoeba is usually found in warmer southern U.S. lakes, and Reinig says she has never personally heard of it.
“Some people are here just to fish, to picnic, to enjoy and relax at their campsite and they can still do that, so it’s just the beach that is closed for now,” she said.
For now, campers at the park can look at the beautiful lake, they just can’t get in the waters.
“It’s really surprising to me that it’s here, just around the time that we come so we just thought that was all kind of weird,” Melvin said.
Although the infection is considered extremely rare, it has a high fatality rate. Of the 154 known cases from 1962 to 2021, only four people have survived.
Authorities say the infection occurs if contaminated water gets into a swimmer’s nose. It cannot be spread from person to person.
To reduce your risk of infection, you should limit the amount of water going into your nose while in bodies of warm freshwater.
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