Stillwater Lake Remains Closed After Apparent Deadly Amebic Infection
The family of a 9-year-old Stillwater boy who died from a suspected rare amoeba infection has identified the boy as Jack Ariola Erenberg.
Jack swam in Lily Lake in Stillwater last week. Health officials say that's where he likely contracted the severe brain infection.
Jack's mom tells KSTP, "Jack was a little boy who loved the outdoors. He loved swimming and kayaking... he was a boy who just loved being outside."
The Minnesota Department of Health is now investigating. They say that the cause is apparently amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a very rare form of meningitis caused by an amoeba associated with warm freshwater. The amoeba enters the body through the nose during swimming or diving.
Minnesota's only previously confirmed case was in 2010. That child also swam in Lily Lake, which is now closed.
The Minnesota Department of Health sent a sample of Lily Lake to the CDC to test the water for the deadly amoeba. By the end of the week, they will be able to confirm if the amoeba came from Lake Lily.
"The risk of infection from Naegleria in Minnesota is very low," said Richard Danila, Assistant State Epidemiologist. "Swimming is a very healthy summertime activity and we do not want to discourage people from swimming. Rather, simply avoid swimming, diving or other activities in obviously stagnant water when temperatures are high and water levels are low," Danila said.
Some additional precautions you can take while swimming during extremely warm periods include keeping your head out of the water, using nose clips or holding the nose shut, and avoid stirring up sediment at the bottom of shallow freshwater areas.
A fund has been set up for Jack's family at Central Bank in Forest Lake, although donations can be made at any Central Bank location.
Click here for more information on the rare amebic infection from the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Associated Press Contributed to this Report.
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