Minnesota officials investigate suspected primary amebic meningoencephalitis case
The child began to show symptoms of PAM after swimming in Lake Minnewaska in Pope County.
PAM is a severe, rare brain infection. The ameba known as Naegleria fowleri caused the infection, and this ameba is most commonly found in soil and freshwater around the world. The organism causes infections by traveling through the nose and into the body, which typically happens when people swim or dive in warm freshwater and have some water up their noses. These infections can occur anywhere, but statistics show they are most common in the warmer climates of the southern states.
Between 2005 and 2014, there were 35 cases of the infection in the U.S. Between 2010 and 2012, there were single cases found in Minnesota, both of which were connected to a Washington County lake. Until the 2010 case in Minnesota, areas north of Missouri had never had the infection.
“There is a low-level risk of infection from Naegleria in any freshwater,” Trisha Robinson, MDH waterborne diseases unit supervisor, 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.”