TAYLOR COUNTY, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Natural Resources have confirmed the presence of a brain-eating amoeba in the Lake of Three Fires.
The amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, was suspected to be in the water after a Missouri resident got sick and later died from the infection after swimming in the lake earlier this month. The Lake of Three Fires has been closed since then.
Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba that occurs in warm freshwater like lakes and rivers. In extremely rare cases, it can cause a brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). This infection can only occur when water containing the amoeba rushes up the nose and reaches the brain.
According to the HHS, only 31 cases have occurred in the US in the last decade. To reduce the risk of infection, the DNR recommends that Iowans assume the parasite is present and limit the amount of water that goes up the nose.
The DNR said the lake will be reopened on Thursday July 28 with signage to inform swimmers that the brain-eating amoeba is present in the water.