TAYLOR COUNTY, Iowa — Water tests are being conducted on a lake in southern Iowa on Friday after a Missouri resident became infected with a brain-eating amoeba after visiting an Iowa state park. The Iowa Department of Public Health says the patient ordered the shutdown of the beach at Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County on Thursday.

Health officials say a Missouri resident who recently swam at the beach later became sick with Naegleria fowleri. Water samples are being taken at the lake on Friday to test for the amoeba. IDPH reports that the amoeba is commonly found in freshwater but infections from it are rare. Only 154 cases have been confirmed in the last 60 years across the entire country, according to IDPH.

The amoeba can enter the body if a swimmer gets water containing it up their nose. It then can travel into the swimmers brain where it destroys tissue. The amoeba can’t be spread from one person to another and can’t be contracted simply by drinking contaminated water.

Symptoms of an infection include:

  • Severe headache
  • Altered mental status
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Stiff Neck
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should obviously contact a trusted health care provider.

Swimmers can avoid possible infection from the amoeba by taking care to keep water out of their nose, including plugging their nose when diving in or wearing nose clips. Swimmers should avoid swimming in warm water and try not to stir up sediment from lake or river beds when swimming.