Yup, you read that headline correctly.

Naegleria fowleri, otherwise known as the freaking "brain-eating amoeba," may be in the water at Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County, Iowa.

Located just a few minutes out of the county seat Bedford, the lake officially had its beaches closed on Thursday night with no swimming allowed, according to KCCI.

The news site added that "a Missouri resident has a confirmed infection after they were potentially exposed while swimming" in the lake.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state of Iowa are currently in the process of testing the small body of water to confirm that the zombie microbe actually resides there. The CDC site says that "It can take weeks to identify the ameba."

The CDC elaborates that when the ameba is present in the brain, it causes the "disease primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain infection that leads to the destruction of brain tissue. In its early stages, symptoms of PAM may be similar to symptoms of bacterial meningitis."

Some symptoms of PAM may include the following:

  • headache
  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Later symptoms can include

  • stiff neck
  • confusion
  • lack of attention to people and surroundings
  • loss of balance
  • seizures
  • hallucinations.

After the start of symptoms, "the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within about 5 days (range 1 to 12 days)," and the fatality rate is over 97%.

Take a breath though, folks. Infections by the amoeba are super rare. Chances are that if you jumped into a lake a couple of months or years ago you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

The CDC says that from 2011 to 2020 there were 33 total cases in the United States. For comparison, between 2001 and 2010, there were 34,000 cases of drowning. Also, the infection can't pass from person to person.

Finally, for those still concerned about infection, the government body says that those who want to ensure their safety "should focus on limiting the amount of water going up the nose" and that one can avoid waters that may be higher in temperature than others.

Due to the amoeba's preference for warm water, it is most frequently found in southern states but occasionally makes its way north.

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