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Patient from Missouri dies after contracting brain-eating amoeba while swimming in now-closed Iowa lake

Officials believed the patient swam in an Iowa lake suspected of carrying the amoeba in late June.
Amebic meningoencephalitis
Naegleria fowleri infects people when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose.Smith Collection / Getty Images file

A patient from Missouri has died after being infected with a brain-eating amoeba following a visit to an Iowa lake, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed on Friday.

The patient died of primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a usually deadly infection caused by the naegleria fowleri amoeba, The Associated Press reported.

NBC News has reached out to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for more information.

The death of the Missouri resident was first reported by The Des Moines Register.

Missouri health officials have not identified the patient, who was in the intensive care unit prior to their death, the Register reported.

“Because these cases are so incredibly rare and out of respect for the family, we do not intend to release additional information about the patient which could lead to the person’s identification,” Lisa Cox, communications director from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, told the Register in an email.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services learned of the infection on July 6, the Register reported. Officials believed the patient swam in an Iowa lake suspected of carrying the amoeba in late June. The Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County, Iowa, where the Missouri resident is believed to have contracted the amoeba, was closed earlier this month as a “precautionary response."

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services warned in a tweet that the amoeba "isn't contagious" but can be lethal if a person is infected.

"Although rare, infection can occur when water containing Naegleria fowleri enters through the nose from warm freshwater. The amoeba travels up the nose to the brain where it destroys brain tissue. This infection isn’t contagious and can’t be contracted by swallowing water," the department tweeted.

The fatality rate for those who contract primary amebic meningoencephalitis from Naegleria fowleri is more than 97 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said it is often contracted from rivers and lakes. Of 154 cases reported in the United States, only four people have survived Naegleria fowleri, officials told the Register.

The Missouri resident is possibly the first-ever reported in Iowa, according to the CDC.

The primary symptoms of an infection include headaches, fever, nausea and vomiting, the Register reported.

No additional cases of primary amebic meningoencephalitis have been reported, according to the Register.

Officials said the death is being investigated and while it is believed the patient contracted the amoeba in the Lake of Three Fires, other bodies of water are being tested.

"It’s strongly believed by public health experts that the lake is a likely source, but we are not limiting the investigation to that source because it hasn’t been confirmed. Additional public water sources in Missouri are being tested," the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services tweeted.