It's rare, yet the local risk is real. Deadly amoebas can be found in Florida's freshwater lakes and hot springs, as well as in under- chlorinated swimming pools.
The single-cell organism, Naegleria fowleri, enters a person through the nose and attacks the brain by dissolving its tissue.
Sadly, the majority of infections in the United States occur in boys under 13, which could be due to their enthusiasm for water sports.
To help create awareness, Mount Dora Buzz asked Dr. Swannie Jett, of the Seminole County Health Department about the risks, symptoms and precautions.
BUZZ: What temperature does the water have to be? DR. JETT: Although N. fowleri prefer warmer temperatures, PAM cases have been reported as far north as Minnesota and Indiana, indicating that it can occur in more temperate climates. Water temperature is not a good gauge for the safety of a body of water.
BUZZ: How long after infection do symptoms begin. What are the most common symptoms? DR. JETT: Symptoms typically occur 1-9 days (median 5 days) after exposure. Symptoms include fever, severe headache, nausea and vomiting.
BUZZ: What is the mortality rate once infected? DR. JETT: PAM is nearly 100% fatal. There have only been 2 known survivors in the U.S.
BUZZ: Do you feel any lakes in Central Florida are safe from infection? DR. JETT: There is no way to tell whether a lake in Central Florida or anywhere else is safe from infection. Precautions should be taken when swimming in any fresh body of water.
BUZZ: What do you recommend for prevention? DR. JETT: •Hold your nose shut, use nose clips, or keep your head above water when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater. •Avoid putting your head under the water in hot springs and other untreated thermal waters. •Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature. •Avoid digging in, or stirring up, the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.
BUZZ: Can people be infected while in the middle of a lake, as well as the shallow waters near shore? It's often said tubing is safe because the amoebas live in the warm, shallow, muddy bottom near shore, so only activities in that area are at risk. However, it seems that once disturbed from the bottom, the amoebas could drift to other areas of the lake. DR. JETT: Correct, disturbances can drift to any area of a body of water. Precautions should be taken regardless of where in the lake a person is swimming, diving, etc. ______________ In addition to the amoebas, there is also a rare, fresh-water bacteria that enters humans through scratches on their skin and open wounds. Lake County has over 1000 lakes, so residents should remain mindful of the risks and aware of the preventative measures available.
The grand opening of Eustis' sailboat-themed splash pad is just in time for summer vacation. The city will host a celebration on Friday, June 10 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The new attraction is located at the City of Eustis Aquatic Center in Ferran Park.
The event will feature free admission to the splash pad and city's pool, inflatable water slides, food trucks and music. After a 2 p.m. ribbon cutting ceremony, there will be free ice cream while supplies last.
The splash pad will be open Monday – Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission to the splash pad and pool will be $3 per guest, per visit. Punch card passes for multiple visits to the pool and splash pad will be available at a discounted rate. Entry during the lap swim time, while only the pool is open, will be a $2 per guest, per visit. The splash pad and pool will also be available for private event rentals. Rentals can be arranged by contacting the City of Eustis Aquatic Center at 352-357-3264. “The splash pad is a great amenity for our residents and visitors. It will bring a new dynamic to the existing pool and a new energy to the waterfront,” said City Manager Ron Neibert. “We wanted to embrace the sailboat theme since we see many sailboats on Lake Eustis. It fits perfectly with the scenery.” At 6 p.m. on the same day, there will be a Summer Kickoff Concert in the Ferran Park bandshell featuring the Caribbean Chillers. Admission to the concert is free and VIP tickets are available for $30. Tickets are available at the Lake Eustis Area Chamber of Commerce.
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