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Deadly Waters and Swimming Dangers

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It's already claimed the life of one child this summer. After swimming in a lake, a 9 year-old Kansas girl died days later. The culprit was a single cell organism present in many bodies of freshwater.
The amoeba responsible for deadly brain infections is commonly found in warm, freshwater lakes and rivers. The risk of infection is slim, but once infected it's nearly always fatal. When a specific ameba, enters the body through the nose the consequences are often deadly, and a mom who spoke to ABC NewsChannel 20 says that risk was on her mind before heading to Lake Shelbyville Monday afternoon.
"It certainly my mind [I was] lying in bed this morning thinking we're going to go there and...are we just lucky or what," Kyra Havera said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control website, 132 people have been diagnosed with the amoeba infection but only three have survived. Unlike bacteria or other dangers in the water, no one's testing to see if it's present at swim beaches.
"That is not something we test for. We test purely for bacteria to see what the levels are in that lake. Most people do not test for amoeba or parasites," IDPH Spokesperson Melaney Arnold.
This particular amoeba is most common in the summer since it thrives in heat, but it's been found in lakes as far north as Minnesota.
"Honestly I haven't been in the lake just because of the horror stories I've heard," Beach goer Paul Ventura.
The infection, called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, enters through the nose. If water is swallowed, stomach acids will kill the amoeba. Infection can usually be avoided by keeping your head above water, holding your nose, or using a nose plug. Even without those precautions, most people will never have any experience with an infection.
"I grew up on a farm we swam in ponds and local lakes and I guess it's just a risk you take. I don't think it's a high enough percentage to stay away from water forever," Havera said.
In the rare case of infection, symptoms usually show up in the first one to seven days. Those symptoms include headaches, nausea, fever, vomiting and stiff neck. The condition requires immediate hospitalization.

Deadly Waters and Swimming Dangers


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