What is Naegleria fowleri?
Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba that lives in the sediment along the banks of freshwater lakes and rivers. Naegleria fowleri prefer warmer water and more likely to cause infection when water temperatures are above 80°F. However, they can survive for long periods of time in colder water while they are in cyst form and become dormant. For this reason, infection from Naegleria fowleri can be found in tropical as well as cooler climates.
On an extremely hot day in the middle of summer it’s very common to see people swimming in the lake or playing at the beach. Most people are there for fun relaxing and lounging and nobody is concerned about getting sick.
But deadly microbes love this hot environment and strive when water levels are low and water temperatures are high. Parasites that are dormant when water temperatures are below 80°F become active when temps are high and can infect people swimming in the warm water.
State medical officials were advised of a possible occurrence of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) caused by Naegleria fowleri, the free-living amoeba located in fresh water lakes and other waterways, which led to the death of a Sedgwick County citizen. The investigation from Sedgwick County Medical Division personnel revealed the infection probably happened when the young boy was swimming in the Winfield City Lake found in Cowley County.