Minnesota Child Contracts Brain Disease After Swimming in Lake
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota health officials say a child has been sickened by a rare brain infection after swimming in a lake in Pope County.
The state Department of Health said Tuesday the child became critically ill after swimming in Lake Minnewaska in western Minnesota.
Officials suspect the child contracted a form of parasitic meningitis.
The disease is caused by an amoeba often found in warm bodies of freshwater. The amoeba reaches the brain after contaminated water is inhaled through the nose, although health officials say that occurrence is rare.
While Naegleria infections can occur anywhere, they are more common in warm southern states. Thirty-five cases were reported in the United States from 2005 through 2014, including single cases in Minnesota in 2010 and 2012. Both Minnesota cases were linked to a lake in Washington County. Prior to the confirmation of the 2010 Minnesota case, the infection had not been detected north of Missouri.
According to MDH Waterborne Diseases Unit Supervisor Trisha Robinson, there are a few tips that may help reduce the risk of infection when using any lake, river or other freshwater body.
“There is a low-level risk of infection from Naegleria in any freshwater,” Robinson said. “While the only sure way to prevent PAM is to avoid participation in freshwater-related activities, you can reduce your risk by keeping your head out of the water, using nose clips or holding the nose shut, and avoiding stirring up sediment at the bottom of shallow freshwater areas.”
More information about PAM and Naegleria fowleri is available on the MDH website.