Lake Murray, Oklahoma: One Swimmer Dead After Contracting Rare Brain-Eating Disease

One person has died after contracting a deadly brain-eating disease while swimming in Lake Murray, Oklahoma, according to media reports.

The Lake Murray swimmer was a Carter Country resident. The swimmer’s identity has not yet been revealed.

The disease contracted by the swimmer is known as Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis or PAM and is caused by a single-celled organism known as Naelgeria Fowleri.

According to the Associated Press, the amoeba which causes the disease contracted by the swimmer in Lake Murray, Oklahoma, is common in most lakes, though it often multiplies in warmer water conditions.

The Associated Press also reports that just seven cases of PAM have been seen in Oklahoma since 1998.

“Persons may be exposed to the Naegleria fowleri amoeba when they dive or submerge their head in contaminated water. The amoeba then travels up the nose to the brain where it destroys brain tissue.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, PAM can only be contracted when a swimmer’s head is submerged under water and cannot be contracted from simply drinking water where the amoeba is present. In addition, the brain-eating disease contracted by the Lake Murray swimmer cannot be spread from person to person.

Symptoms Of The Rare Brain-Eating Disease Caught In Lakes

Early symptoms of the disease caught by the Lake Murray, Oklahoma swimmer include fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting, according to the CDC. Eventually, the disease leads to a stiff neck, confusion, inattention to people and surroundings, a loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations, the CDC reports.

Symptoms of the brain-eating disease usually show within nine days of swimming, while most often the infection shows within five days.

After the symptoms begin, death usually occurs within five days, though victims sometimes survive as long as 12 days, according to the CDC.

Though the disease picked up by the Lake Murray, Oklahoma swimmer is extremely serious and often fatal, it’s also very rare. In fact, only 133 cases of the disease have been reported since 1962. Three people believed to have the disease survived.

Who Is At Risk For Contracting The Swimming Disease?

Most frequently, the PAM illness is contracted by young boys, according to the CDC. While the reason for this is unclear, the government organization speculates that boys contract the disease more often because they are more likely than others to enjoy diving and playing in the dirt on the river bottoms.

Reports of the fatal sickness are found most often in southern states, and the infection occurs most frequently in July, August, and September when water temperatures are higher.

Lake Murray, Oklahoma is located in Ardmore, Oklahoma, near the Texas border.

[Photo credit: Screenshot from medicaldump on]

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