116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The person infected with amoeba after swimming in a southwestern Iowa lake has died, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
The department released a news release on July 7 confirming that a Missouri resident had been infected with Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba that can cause a rare and often fatal brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis.
The patient had recently swam at Lake of Three Fires near Bedford, Iowa. As of the news release, the patient was being treated for the infection in an intensive care unit.
The patient has since died from the brain infection, said Missouri Health Department spokesperson Lisa Cox. The patient died on July 7, although the Missouri Health Department was not notified immediately, she said.
Officials believe the person swam at Lake of Three Fires sometime in the last two weeks of June, The Gazette previously reported. The Missouri Health Department did not have anymore details about the patient’s potential exposure in the lake as of Friday.
“Because these cases are so incredibly rare and out of respect for the family, we do not intend to release additional information about the patient which could lead to the person's identification,” Cox said in an email.
Lake of Three Fires was tested on Wednesday for the presence of Naegleria fowleri, said Iowa Department of Natural Resource spokesperson Tammie Krausman. The sample was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and results are expected within several days, she said.
According to the CDC, the microscopic Naegleria fowleri amoeba is commonly found in warm freshwater, such as lakes and rivers, and soil. It can infect people via contaminated water up their noses, where the organism can travel to the brain and cause fatal infections.
No other Naegleria fowleri cases have ever been confirmed in Iowa, said Iowa Department of Public Health spokesperson Sarah Ekstrand in an email. Of the more than 150 known U.S. cases of the brain infection since 1962, only four patients have survived, according to the CDC.
As of July 8, there were no plans to test other lakes in the state, Ekstrand told The Gazette.
Brittney J. Miller is an environmental reporter for The Gazette and a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.
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