Naegleria fowleri is a “microscopic single-celled free-living amoeba that can cause a rare life-threatening infection of the brain called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM),” said the agency.
“PAM is extremely rare. Since 1962, only 154 known cases have been identified in the United States,” the release said.
Infections caused by Naegleria fowleri may occur when water where the amoeba is present enters the body through a person’s nose, then travels up to the brain where it destroys brain tissue, the health department said. The infection isn’t contagious and can’t be caused by swallowing contaminated water.
The health department is working with the CDC to test the lake water and “confirm the presence of Naegleria fowleri,” which will take several days, the release said.
No additional suspected cases of are currently being investigated in Missouri or Iowa, the agency said.
Symptoms begin with severe headaches, fever, nausea, and vomiting before escalating to seizures, hallucinations, and a coma, according to the CDC.
It takes about five days after infection for initial symptoms of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis to show up, according to the CDC. The disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death between one and 18 days after symptoms begin.