Texas resident dies after contracting rare amebic meningitis brain infection after swimming in lake

News & Politics

A Texas resident has passed away after suffering from sickness due to an amebic meningitis infection, Austin Public Health has reported, according to a City of Austin press release. The individual got sick after swimming in Lake Lyndon B. Johnson this month.

“Although these infections are very rare, this is an important reminder that there are microbes present in natural bodies of water that can pose risks of infection,” Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes noted, according to the press release. “Increased temperatures over the summer make it ideal for harmful microorganisms to grow and flourish.”

The press release stated that amebic meningitis can be deadly when water gets forced up an individual’s nose.

“Amebic meningitis does not occur if water is swallowed, but can be fatal if forced up the nose, as can occur when jumping into water, diving, water-skiing or other water activities. It is not found in salt water, or in properly maintained and chlorinated pools. Symptoms of an amebic meningitis infection — an infection of the brain — start with severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting and progress to stiff neck, seizures and coma and can lead to death. These rare infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels,” the press release notes.

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“Primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) infections are rare, with only 39 known infected individuals in Texas between 1962 and 2022,” the press release states, noting that PAM can cause serious sickness up to nine days following exposure. “A sample specimen from the case has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further identification.”

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