Lake Havasu to post warnings of killer amoeba - East Valley Tribune: News

Lake Havasu to post warnings of killer amoeba

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Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 10:31 am | Updated: 7:57 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

LAKE HAVASU CITY - Signs warning of the dangers of a rare amoeba will be posted at Lake Havasu, warning swimmers to take precautions such as plugging their noses when they dive.

The City Council decided to take the action after last month's death of 14-year-old Aaron Evans, who doctors believe was infected with the microscopic amoeba, Naegleria fowleri (nuh-GLEER-ee-uh FOWL'-erh-eye), while swimming at the lake.

"I'm happy with it," said Keith Evans, Aaron's grandfather. "It shows they're stepping up."

The city owns only about one mile of waterfront and will post the signs on its portion of the lakefront. Arizona and California share jurisdiction on the remaining lake frontage, along with county and state agencies and Indian tribes.

Mohave County also is considering posting signs and the Board of Health will take up the matter next month, said Patty Mead, director of the county health department.

The signs the city plans to post will warn against dangers including "drowning, physical injuries, and illnesses caused by amoebae and bacteria which exist naturally," according to city staff.

The signs directs bathers not to inhale water through their mouth and nose, and to avoid diving into murky or shallow water.

Human infection by the amoeba is extremely rare, but almost always fatal, with six deaths reported this year in the U.S. The single-cell creature attacks the body when water is inhaled deeply into a person's nose and it attaches to the olfactory nerve, then makes its way to the brain.

City Manager Richard Kaffenberger said Tuesday he believes the city should take the lead role in encouraging a multi-state educational campaign about the amoeba, emphasizing that the amoeba is present in warm lakes and hot springs across the southern U.S.

Besides posting signs, the city may also run public service announcements during periods of high water temperatures, when the amoeba becomes active, city spokesman Charlie Cassens said.

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