Health officials: Amoeba in NC water park killed swimmer

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

HOPE MILLS, N.C. (WCNT) – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that a person died from an illness caused by an amoeba after they swam at a water park in Cumberland County last week.

Officials said one person, whom they did not name, died from an illness after they swam on July 12 at the Fantasy Lake Water Park, located at 5869 Permastone Lake Road in Hope Mills.

NC DHH officials said laboratory testing at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the victim’s illness was caused by Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba (one-celled living organism) commonly found in warm freshwater.

Health officials said Naegleria fowleri, also referred to as the brain-eating amoeba, does not cause illness if swallowed, but it can be fatal if forced up the nose, which can happen during diving, water-skiing or other water activities. 

These rare infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels., officials said.

Symptoms of Naegleria fowleri infection start with severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting and progress to stiff neck, seizures and coma.

State officials say, because it is impossible to eliminate this amoeba from freshwater lakes, you should take these precautions when swimming or playing in freshwater:

  • Limit the amount of water going up your nose. Hold your nose shut, use nose clips or keep your head above water when taking part in warm freshwater-related activities.
  • Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.
  • Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas. 

For more information on Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis, visit here.

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