Stillwater, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- The Minnesota Health Department is investigating a child's death that may have been caused by a rare parasitic infection after he went swimming at Lily Lake in Stillwater, MN.
Health experts believe it may have been a primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a very rare form of meningitis caused by an amoeba associated with warm freshwater.
Lily Lake has been closed off to swimmers until further notice.
According to the Pioneer Press, the nine year old boy was traveling with his mother in Grand Marais on Friday when he became ill. He was flown to a hospital in Duluth where doctors identified it as Naegleria fowleri.
The boy was taken off life support on Tuesday.
The organism Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba commonly found in warm freshwater and soil. It causes a very rare but severe brain infection and is nearly always fatal.
The organism infects people by entering the body through the nose. This can occur is someone enters warm freshwater when swimming or diving.
The Department of Health is trying to confirm with the Centers for Disease Control whether or not the brain infection was caused by the amoeba.
Naegleria is commonly found in freshwater all over the world, however infections are rare.
Forty cases were reported in the United States from 2001 through 2011. The only previously confirmed case of this infection in Minnesota was reported in August of 2010.
“The risk of infection from Naegleria in Minnesota is very low," said Richard Danila, Assistant State Epidemiologist. “Swimming is a very healthy summertime activity and we do not want to discourage people from swimming. Rather, simply avoid swimming, diving or other activities in obviously stagnant water when temperatures are high and water levels are low,” Danila said.
Some additional precautions you can take while swimming during extremely warm periods include keeping your head out of the water, using nose clips or holding the nose shut, and avoid stirring up sediment at the bottom of shallow freshwater areas.
Posted to the web by Krista Burns