(Des Moines, IA) -- The beach at Lake of Three Fires State Park in southwest Iowa's Taylor County will reopen tomorrow (Thursday). Signs will warn swimmers of the presence of a potentially dangerous amoeba (Naegleria fowleri) in the water. Officials say the infection caused by it can happen when water rushes up the nose and reaches the brain. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources recommends swimmers assume the parasite is present and avoid getting water up your nose. A Missouri resident contracted the illness after swimming at the beach in June. The individual died last week. Further testing has confirmed the presence of the parasite.
The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in conjunction with the CDC, have confirmed the presence of Naegleria fowleri in Lake of Three Fires.
Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba that commonly occurs in warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals. In extremely rare cases, it can cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain infection that may result when water containing the amoeba rushes up the nose and reaches the brain.
- Naegleria fowleri is one of many naturally occurring organisms found in freshwater and is more common in southern states. It usually occurs when temperatures increase for prolonged periods of time, resulting in higher water temperatures and lower water levels. Use caution when engaging in water-related activities in warm freshwater during these times.
- Behaviors associated with the infection include diving or jumping into the water, submerging the head under water, or engaging in other water-related activities that cause water to go up the nose forcefully.
- Swimmers can reduce their risk by keeping their heads out of the water and using nose clips or plugging their noses when going underwater. Swimmers should also avoid digging or stirring up the sediment at the bottom of the lake or river.
- People can't get infected by swimming in a pool that has been properly cleaned and is maintained and disinfected. They also can't get it from drinking contaminated water.
- Please note exposure to the amoeba may also occur when using neti pots to rinse your sinuses or conducting religious rituals with tap water. Use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.